Ganimède is the French word for Ganymede, Jupiter’s satellite, the most beautiful of mortals, Trojan prince and the ideal of male beauty, who made Zeus / Jupiter fall in love with him. Zeus/ Jupiter turned himself into an eagle and took Ganymede to Olympus to become his lover and the cupbearer of the gods.
It is not strange, therefore, that the name Ganimède became, (especially from the 16th century on) a suitable term to name those young guys who, because of their beauty, were worthy of being loved by other men. This gave them a finer connotation than other terms also used at the time, such as Bardache or Giton, which had a more popular meaning and were often associated with prostitution. Despite being referred to with a more fine and cultured term, the ganymedes were not more tolerated than the rest.
At the end of the 17th century the term is included in the dictionaries as a synonym of bardache or as “a young man who offers pleasure and who lets the sin of sodomy be committed with him” (Ph. J. Le Roux, Dictionnaire comique, 1718). This term is quite common in literature until the 19th century, when the term is gradually lost, replaced by more prison slang terms like Tante or Giton. There are some exceptions, though, such as the moment when the novel Teleny, attributed to Oscar Wilde, was translated into French in 1934. It is said that 300 copies were printed for the members of the Ganymède Club of Paris (without any proof of the existence of such a club).