“Excuse me, I thought you were a girl.”
The pretty boy blinked at the eagle. “You are mistaken: I am definitely a boy.” He pointed to his genitals in proof.
The eagle shed its pinions and assumed a human form: Mature, manly, clear-eyed, with a flicker of lightnings playing about his beard.
“Excuse me, I thought you were an eagle.”
“In fact, I am a god. I am Zeus.” The god gestured and a rumble of thunder punctuated his announcement.
“Ah! Pardon me, great lord, I was deceived by your cunning disguise.” The pretty boy knelt.
Zeus chucked him under the chin. “So what’s your name, pretty boy who’s pretty enough to make Zeus think he’s a girl.”
The pretty boy stood up but kept his eyes lowered. “I am Ganymede, Thunderer, son of Tros, chieftain of Dardania.”
“Oh, yes, Tros, the one who founded Troy and then there’s going to be a war and then Schliemann… er, never mind, divine foreknowledge and all that. In any case, I was planning to dally with you for a while and beget heroes upon your loins, you know, the sort of thing I generally do with pretty, er, girls. And women. But since you’re a boy, perhaps you’d like me to drop you nearer home on my way off?”
Ganymede shyly raised his eyes to smile at the god. “Well, king of gods, it’s true I can’t bear heroes for you, but I *can* provide dalliance.”
Ganymede smiled more widely and stepped closer. “If I might be permitted, son of Kronos–” He knelt.
“Oh… oh! OH!”
Thunder rolled, lightning struck, and a brief but powerful rainshower soaked the region.
“Have you never dallied with a boy, Raingiver?”
“Not before this, no.”
“I could show you other possibilities, gracious lord, if we might adjourn to someplace drier and more comfortable.”
“How about this, pretty boy?”
Ganymede boldly threw his arms about the god’s waist. “I don’t like caves! Once when I was a child, I was trapped in a cave by an angry bear. I was terribly frightened.”
“Really? I’ve had some of my best dalliances in caves. But perhaps you would prefer this–”
At once they were in a secluded grove on the slopes of Mt. Ida, where great oak trees encircled a patch of sweet-smelling flowers. Ganymede sneezed violently.
“I beg your pardon, father of gods and men, but an abundance of flowers always makes me ill. And then I sn–” He sneezed once again.
“Very well, then.” In the space of a heartbeat, they were in a bedchamber in a small disused palace on Mt. Olympos.
“Now this is more like it,” Ganymede said, and tugged the god toward the bed.
Quite a lot of dalliance ensued, until Ganymede had to plead exhaustion on the grounds that he was only human. Zeus allowed him to sleep, watching over him lest anyone discover their tryst.
When Ganymede awoke, the god stroked his hair. “How would you like to stay here on Olympos, my boy? You could spell my daughter Hebe as cupbearer; she might even marry you, if you like. And we could dally further from time to time, you and I.”
“I’d like that, great lawgiver.” Ganymede glanced at Zeus from under his lashes. “You didn’t really mistake me for a girl, did you, all-seeing lord?”
Zeus laughed. “No, of course not. But you did teach me a few tricks, lad. And you *are* awfully pretty.”
(In honor of the syncretism of Antinous and Ganymede.)