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The Exquisite Corpse of Ganymede

A Cursory Overview of an Ancient Gender Studies Discourse

Andrew Calimach

This essay examines surviving traces of the Zeus and Ganymede myth and identifies two interwoven discourses on male love in antiquity: one, a tradition integral to a Cretan initiatory rite and its didactic nature evidenced by an analogous and opposite Boeotian cautionary myth; the other, a nucleus of polemic and shifting male love constructions from Minoan times through Late Antiquity. The mythic tradition is discussed as an archetypal key to identifying the ancient pedagogical and erotic functions of male love and the ancients’ evolving attitudes toward such relationships. As the myth and its offshoots, which are presented here in the form of a pastiche evocative of the atmosphere of the tradition, reflect their Classical and modern echoes through Western and Oriental interpretations, a recurring male love ethic and aesthetic is seen to take shape.

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Chung-Hao Ku

pursue males, and being slices, so to speak, of the male, love men throughout their boyhood, and take pleasure in physical contact with men” (1951: 62). To go with Jim’s emphasis of his masculinity, the imagery of manly reunion dispels the association