THE RAPE OF GANYMEDE
The unrivalled beauty of Ganymede, already mentioned in the Iliad, led Zeus to choose him as the cup-bearer of the gods. According to the myth Zeus sent an eagle (or took the form of an eagle) to take the boy to Olympus. The statue in the Vatican must follow a famous bronze attributed to Leochares, which, although lost, can be reconstructed through its Roman adaptations and an ancient description. These suggest that the eagle seemed aware of the treasure it had found, and snatched the boy gently. The boy also aspires towards the sky: his feet barely touch the ground, and he has left his dog behind staring after him.