Jupiter orrery showing Ganymede
Dates: c. 1830
Makers: Fayrer, London
Country of origin: England, UK
Location: Small Basement Gallery
Online record: http://bit.do/jupiterorrery
“The king of all the Gods was inflamed with love
for Ganymede of Phrygia. He had found
a shape more pleasing even than his own.” – Ovid, Metamorphoses, 1.14
Many of the planets, moons and stars are named after classical gods and goddesses. In our solar system, the largest planet is named after the king of the gods, Jupiter. Jupiter is the white ivory ball orbited in this astronomical demonstration by its four largest satellites. Third from the planet is the largest moon in the solar system Ganymede, named after Jupiter’s lover. Like most ancient Greek and Roman gods, Jupiter took both male and female lovers. He so admired the beauty of young Ganymede that he made him immortal at his side. Similarly, Ganymede, the moon of Jupiter, forever orbits its planet.
Alongside its astronomical use, Ganymede remained a popular character throughout European history, featuring in the works of Shakespeare, Michelangelo, Rubens, Goethe and many more. ‘Ganymede’ was used as a pejorative for gay men, as well as ‘catamite’, which was derived from his Latin name, Catamitus.