Immortal Cupbearer

It’s Me Me Monday, a day to promote, strut, and celebrate your Me-ness!

The Guest Me for today is Ganymede, immortal cupbearer of the gods. Here’s a moment with my particular version of Ganymede, who becomes Troile’s patron deity in Aissa and Polyxena.

 

Once I was a Trojan prince, like and unlike the boy I visit in his dreams.

Like Troile, my passions were only just beginning to awaken when I was swept up by forces I couldn’t control. Brought to the table of the Olympians, dominated by beings greater than I could ever be.

There was a girl standing among them, thin and awkward amongst their superhuman beauty. She held a cup in both hands.

She offered it to me.

A chill ran down my back when a cold finger touched my cheek.

I turned to look into the bleak grayness of Hades’s gaze. He shook his white head from side to side.

Once I drank from the gods’s cup, I’d be immortal. Forever young and beautiful. Beyond Death, beyond the Lord of the Underworld’s reach.

Zeus beckoned me from his finger, waving Hades away with his other hand.

Hades drifted back to the table, a ghost at the Olympian merry making.

Not that Zeus allowed my attention to linger on his brother for long. His full lips curled with a sensual promise of all the nights to come if I yielded to him and drank.

I was just a boy, trembling with the beginnings of passion. I wasn’t about to reveal this to a lover, no so readily. Little did I know I’d set the pattern of behavior in generations to come in reticence. Boys who’d caught a lover’s eye would be expected to show the same reluctance whether they felt it or not.

I might have been slow about it, but I stepped forward. I accepted the cup from the girl.

A face appeared in its swirling contents of a boy with golden hair and a face wet with tears. Troy burned behind him. I saw myself, flushed with passion, feeding upon Zeus’s kisses, qivering in his arms. I saw Hera, Zeus’s queen, watching with cold eyes. She twisted her mouth into a malevolent grimace which promised retribution and misery.

She would never forgive me if I drank, if I yielded to her husband’s embrace. Hera would see Troy burn if I did.

If I yielded, no, if I learned from Zeus’s amorous caresses, from all the Olympians present, perhaps I could learn persuasion. Perhaps I could hone my charms, which would never fade, use them to persuade the mightiest of the Olympians to save my people from his queen’s wrath.

I lifted the cup and drank. My flesh grew rosy with warmth, yet somehow my heart, my blood, everything stilled without ceasing.

Time stopped for me. I was immortal.

The girl left me holding the cup. Without a word, she left the gathering. No one noticed her departure except for Hera.

The Queen of the Olympians turned her gaze upon me, which was even colder than before. She would neither forgive nor forget what I’d done. I hadn’t merely stolen her husband’s attention. I’d stolen her daughter’s place among the them.

Hera would see that I suffered for this.

Her wrath didn’t frighten me as it had before I drank. I studied her with calm detachment I’d never felt before.

Perhaps Aphrodite had added a little something to the cup to relax me, make me more pliant. All I know is that when Zeus took me to his bed, I yielded to him, moving according to his passion, responding just as he wished.

My lover was well pleased with me. There have been others. There will always be others. I’m the only one he invites back to his bed over and over, besides his wife.

Hera hasn’t forgiven for me for that, either.

It doesn’t matter. I’m still the cupbearer. I pass it to each of the gods. I hold it for Zeus.
Hades is an infrequent visitor to the table of the Olympians. When he’s there, he watches my every move with sad, hungry eyes.

Perhaps he regrets that I slipped through his fingers. Death will never touch me.

Other Trojan princes will not escape him so easily. Not with Athena, enraged by Paris’s scorn for her beauty tempered through wisdom and strength, allied with Hera against them.

Hades, Athena, and Hera will bring about Troy’s destruction if they have their way. I fear not even Zeus’s might, persuaded by my caresses will stop their cunning determination to destroy my home.

If only I could save one Trojan prince, just one of my kindred. I’ve sought one in his dreams. I’ve shown him the face of his doom. I’ve offered him a taste from the gods’s cup.

Will it make him immortal as it did me? I don’t know. Whatever power he drank, it’s up to him to use it. For Troy’s fate, any possible future it might have depends upon Troile.

It’s a heavy burden for one so young. May he find what strength lies in his heart to face it.

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