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Updated by Cypress Snyder on Oct 16, 2018
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Ganymede Oxford

The different definitions from the Oxford English dictionary that could apply to Shakespear's use of naming Rosalind's alter ego Ganymede.

  1. allusively. A boy or (usually young) man likened to the beautiful youth Ganymede of Greek mythology, Zeus's cup-bearer and (in many versions) love

    a. A boy or young man who is made use of as a (typically passive) sexual partner by an older man. More generally: a (younger) passive partner in homosexual anal intercourse. Also: a young male prostitute

    b. A beautiful or handsome young man. Cf. Adonis n. 1, Apollo n. 2b.

    c. A boy or (usually young) man who serves wine (or another alcoholic drink) as his master's cup-bearer. Later also (often humorous): a boy or young man employed to serve drinks or collect glasses in a public house, bar, etc., or at an event.


King David

King David

This is an image of King David playing the harp for Saul. I chose this image because it depicts a pretty boy in service of an older man. This is one of the linguistic definitions of Ganymede. As a beautiful boy in the service of an older man.


Myth of Ganymede

According to the Greek myth of Ganymede, Zeus saw the Ganymede, son of Troy, was the most beautiful man in existence. So he turned into an eagle and kidnapped Ganymede to be his cupbearer and lover. Until his wife became jealous, then Ganymede became the constellation Aquarius.'s_Lovers/Ganymede/ganymede.html


Pretty Boy

Pretty Boy

Ganymede always has the context of a beautiful young man. Something otherworldly and with a beauty that would rival a woman's.


She's the Man (3/8) Movie CLIP - Flow Is Flow (2006) HD

This is a clip from the movie She's The Man. Where Viola pretends to be her brother and is flirting with the guy she likes. In this scene, despite having a masculine appearance, the character is still pretty.

She's the Man movie clips: BUY THE MOVIE: Don't miss the HOTTEST NEW TRAILERS: CLIP DESCRIPTION:...



In the play "As You Like It", Phoebe called Rosalind, while in her Ganymede costume, a "sweet Youth" (3.5.65). This means that Rosalind has a very pretty face that she finds attractive. Another allusion to Ganymede.



One of the Oxford English dictionary's definitions of Ganymede includes a male prostitute. I'm not saying that's what Rosalind is doing, but she is pretending to be Orlando's lover, which is something that a prostitute would do, or a rental boyfriend at least.

As You Like It | Act 3, Scene 2 | Royal Shakespeare Company

This is another rendition of Rosalind as Ganymede. Orlando looks at Ganymede with a sort of romantic interest even though he is in love with Rosalind, this is due to the fact that Ganymede still has the beauty and feminine quality about him(her).

Joanna Horton (Celia), Pippa Nixon (Rosalind) and Alex Waldmann (Orlando) in Act 3, Scene 2 of Shakespeare's As You Like It, directed by Maria Aberg

Zeus & Ganymede | In Greek mythology, Ganymede, or Ganymedes… | Flickr

This is a depiction of Ganymede and Zeus in his hawk form. There are many different forms of how Ganymede capture went down, but this is one of those that do not show Ganymede to be unwilling. This is important to how Shakespear wanted to portray Rosalind's Ganymede. Someone who was willing to serve and love.


Feminine side of Ganymede

Feminine side of Ganymede

It is important to know, that the role Ganymede, or those who are referred to as Ganymede, is on the receiving end during anal intercourse. Otherwise seen as the female role, so it says that even though Rosalind is the 'male Ganymede', "he" will be treated as a female.