9 Popular Myths about Ariadne
Ariadne, the daughter of King Minos of Crete, is a prominent figure in Greek mythology. Her story has been the subject of various myths and retellings throughout history. Some of the popular myths about Ariadne include:
Daughter of King Minos and Pasiphae
Ariadne was the daughter of King Minos of Crete and Queen Pasiphae. She was born into the royal family of Crete, a powerful and influential city-state in the ancient Mediterranean.
Half-sibling of the Minotaur
One of the most famous myths involving Ariadne centers around the Minotaur, a monstrous creature with the body of a man and the head of a bull. The Minotaur was born as a result of a curse on Minos’ family. Ariadne’s mother, Pasiphae, fell in love with a bull sent by the Greek sea god Poseidon, which led to the birth of the Minotaur.
The Labyrinth and the Minotaur
Another famous myths involving Ariadne is her role in helping the Athenian hero Theseus defeat the Minotaur. King Minos, her father, had a labyrinth constructed by the renowned engineer and architect Daedalus to house the Minotaur.
As part of a tribute, Athens sent young men and women to be sacrificed to the Minotaur. Ariadne fell in love with Theseus and provided him with a ball of red thread to navigate the labyrinth and find his way back out after killing the Minotaur.
The Abandonment on Island of Naxos
After escaping from Crete with Theseus, Ariadne was abandoned on the island of Naxos by the hero. Different versions of the myth offer varying reasons for his abandonment, but it led to Ariadne’s tragic fate on the island.
Dionysus and Immortality
In some versions of the myth, Ariadne is discovered and rescued by the god Dionysus on Naxos. The Greek god of wine-making, fertility, and religious ecstasy falls in love with her. Dionysus proceeds to marry Ariadne and makes her immortal. Thus, she was granted a divine status among the gods.
By Ariadne, Dionysus fathered a number of children, including , Enyeus, Oenopion, Eurymedon, Maron, Phanus, Peparethus, Phlias, Thoas, and Ceramus.
The Crown and Corona Borealis
Dionysus gives Ariadne a beautiful crown, which is later transformed into the constellation Corona Borealis (the Northern Crown) in the night sky.
Bacchic Rites and Festivals
Ariadne is associated with Dionysus and his Bacchic rituals, often depicted alongside the god and his followers, the maenads and satyrs, in scenes of ecstatic celebrations and revelry.
The Two Ariadnes
In some versions of the myth, there is a belief among the Naxians that there were two Ariadnes—one who died on Naxos after being abandoned by Theseus and another who became immortal after marrying Dionysus.
The Hanged Nymph
Ariadne is sometimes associated with the motif of the Hanged Nymph, a symbol related to thread-spinning or weaving, and found in certain artworks.
The above myths and variations demonstrate the complexity and enduring allure of Ariadne’s story in Greek mythology.
Undoubtedly, her involvement with heroic quests, divine interventions, and tragic fate has made her a captivating figure, inspiring numerous interpretations and artistic representations throughout the centuries.