Ariadne | Greek Princess

Ariadne Greek Mythology

Ariadne (Greek "Ἀριάδνη") in Greek mythology is the princess of Crete, daughter of King Minos and Queen Pasiphae. Known to have fallen in love with the hero Theseus and to be the wife of the god Dionysus. Ariadne is described as "the blonde Ariadne" by Hesiod in the Theogony.

Ariadne and Theseus

Theseus was sent to Crete, voluntarily, as a sacrifice to the minotaur that inhabited the labyrinth built by Daedalus and so well designed that whoever ventured through it could no longer get out. He would then be devoured by the Minotaur.

Theseus decided to face the monster. He went to the renowned Oracle of Delphi to find out if he would be victorious. The oracle told him that he should be helped by love to defeat the Minotaur.

Ariadne, the daughter of King Minos, told him that she would help him if he would take her to Athens so she could marry him. Theseus recognized this as his only chance of victory and accepted.

Ariadne then gave him a sword and a woolen thread (Ariadne's Thread) so that he could find his way back, and of this thread he would hold one of the ends. Theseus was victorious and left back to his land with Ariadne, although his love for her was not the same as hers for him.

Dionysus and Ariadne

On their way back from victory, they passed the island of Naxos, then ruled by Smerdius, son of Naxos. The inhabitants of Naxos welcomed Theseus and his companions as guests, but during the night, Theseus had a dream in which Dionysus threatened him if he did not leave Ariadne to the god.

Theseus leaves without Ariadne, and Dionysus takes her to the mountain called Drius. After that, the two disappear, and Ariadne was never seen again. There are other versions for the separation between Theseus and Ariadne.

In another version of the myth, Ariadne despairs, waking up alone. The goddess of love, Aphrodite, realizing her despair, takes pity on Ariadne and promises her an immortal lover in place of the ungrateful mortal who had deceived her.

Naxos was the favorite island of Dionysus, son of Zeus and Sêmele, where he was left after being captured by sailors.

Finding Ariadne in despair, the inconsolable Dionysus immediately tries to console her and soon takes her as his wife. He gives her a beautiful gold crown as a wedding present, studded with precious stones, which, at her request, he throws into the sky when Ariadne dies.

Preserving her beauty eternally in the form of a constellation, full of shining stars (Corona Borealis), between a kneeling Hercules and Man, who holds the serpent tightly in his hands.

In Pseudo-Apolodorus' version, Dionysus falls in love with Ariadne, kidnaps her to Lemnos, where she bears his sons Toas, Staphylus, Enopion and Peparetus. It was out of grief over Ariadne's disappearance that Theseus forgot to change the black sails of his ship to white sails, which led to Aegeus' suicide.

According to Pausanias, Dionysus and Ariadne were the parents of the hero Céramo; the Athenian district of Ceramus is named after Céramo. Ariadne remained faithful to Dionysus and was later murdered by Perseus at "Argos".

In other myths, Ariadne hanged herself from a tree, such as "Erigone" and "Artemis hanged", a Mesopotamian theme. Some scholars consider that, because of her association with spinning and weaving, Ariadne was a "spinning goddess," like "Arachne," and they support the idea with the "hanging nymph" mytheme.

Dionysus in turn descended into Hades and brought her and her own mother, Sêmele, back. They then joined the gods of Olympus.

Minos and Theseus

As many Greek legends were passed down through oral tradition, many variants of this and other myths exist. According to one version of the legend, Minos attacked Athens after his son was murdered there. The Athenians had to provide reparation, in the form of the sacrifice of seven young men and seven young women every nine years to the Minotaur.

In one year, the sacrificial group included Theseus, a young man who volunteered to kill the minotaur. Ariadne fell in love with him at first sight, and helped him by giving him a sword and a ball of red wool that she was spinning, so that he could find his way back from the minotaur's labyrinth.

Ariadne ran away with Theseus after he achieved his goal, but according to Homer "he had no joy in her." Homer does not elaborate on the nature of Dionysus' charge, but the Oxford Classificatory Dictionary theorizes that she had already married Dionysus when Theseus fled with her.

Ariadne as a possible goddess

Karl Kerenyi (and Robert Graves) theorize that Ariadne (whom they derive from a Greco-Cretan form for arihagne, "totally pure" ) was a fertility goddess from Crete, "the first divine character in Greek mythology to be immediately recognized in Crete,") as soon as archaeology began.

Kerenyi claims that her name is merely an epithet and that she was originally the "Lady of the Labyrinth," both a prison with the dreaded "minotaur" at its center and a winding "stage" for (ritual) dancing. Professor Barry Powell has suggested that she was the serpent-goddess of Crete a woman who although appearing sweet was a manipulative and powerful woman.