Ganymede Agonistes
in Spectacular Performances
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The Ganymede story is directly predicated on the death of Eurydice, and it says something about mankind in general, not about Orpheus alone. Despite his own distinctive sexual tastes after the death of Eurydice, Orpheus's grief, expressed through his songs, encompasses all of human eroticism, whether chaste, promiscuous, polymorphous, heterosexual, homosexual, bestial, incestuous, gentle, or savage. The earliest version of the Ganymede emblem in the first edition of the Emblemata, 1531 shows the youth as a putto riding on an eagle. The ambivalent iconography of the myth for the Renaissance has been admirably and courageously, discussed by James Saslow in a genuinely pioneering book, Ganymede in the Renaissance. For the Renaissance, the stories in the cosmic group most often depicted by artists are those of Orpheus himself, the love of Venus and Adonis, and the story of Ganymede.

Spectacular Performances

Essays on theatre, imagery, books and selves in early modern England>

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