Ariadne, in Greek mythology (Latin Arianna, French Arianne), was daughter of King Minos of Crete and his queen, Pasiphaë, daughter of Helios, the Sun-titan. [Pasiphaë is mentioned as Ariadne's mother in "Bibliotheke" 3.1.2 (Pasiphaë, daughter of the Sun), in Apollonius' "Argonautica" iii.997, and in Hyginus "Fabulae", 224.] She aided Theseus in overcoming the Minotaur and later became the consort of the god Dionysus.

Minos and Theseus

Since ancient Greek legends were passed down through oral tradition, many variations of this and other myths exist. [ [ MSN Encarta Encyclopedia: Greek Mythology] ] According to one version of the legend, Minos attacked Athens after his son was killed there. The Athenians asked for terms, and were required to sacrifice seven young men and seven maidens every nine years to the Minotaur. One year, the sacrificial party included Theseus, a young man who volunteered to come and kill the Minotaur. Ariadne fell in love at the first sight of him, and helped him by giving him a sword and a ball of the red fleece thread she was spinning, so that he could find his way out of the Minotaur's labyrinth.

She ran away with Theseus after he achieved his goal, and according to Homer "but he had no joy of her, for ere that Artemis slew her in seagirt Dia because of the witness of Dionysus" ("Odyssey" [ XI, 321-5] ). Homer does not enlarge on the nature of Dionysus' accusation: but the Oxford Classical Dictionary theorizes that she was already married to Dionysus when Theseus ran away with her.


In Hesiod and most other accounts, Theseus abandoned Ariadne sleeping on Naxos, and Dionysus rediscovered and wedded her.

With Dionysus, she was the mother of Thoas and of the twins Oenopion, the personification of wine, and Staphylus (or Staphylos). Her wedding diadem was set in the heavens as the constellation Corona.

She remained faithful to Dionysus, but was later killed by Perseus at Argos. In other myths Ariadne hanged herself from a tree, like Erigone and the hanging Artemis — a Mesopotamian theme. Some scholars think, due to her thread and winding associations, that she was a weaving goddess such as Arachne, and they support the assertion with the mytheme of the Hanged Nymph ("see weaving in mythology").

Dionysus however descended into Hades and brought her and his mother Semele back. They then joined the gods in Olympus.

Plutarch, in his "vita" of Theseus that treats him as a historical individual, reports that in the Naxos of his day, an earthly Ariadne was separate from a celestial one::"Some of the Naxians also have a story of their own, that there were two Minoses and two Ariadnes, one of whom, they say, was married to Dionysos in Naxos and bore him Staphylos and his brother, and the other, of a later time, having been carried off by Theseus and then abandoned by him, came to Naxos, accompanied by a nurse named Korkyne, whose tomb they show; and that this Ariadne also died there."

In a kylix by the painter Aison (c. 425–c. 410 BC; National Archaeological Museum of Spain, Madrid; see .

An ancient cult of Aphrodite-Ariadne was observed at Amathus, Cyprus, according to the obscure Hellenistic mythographer Paeon of Amathus; Paeon's works are lost, but his narrative is among the sources cited by Plutarch in his "vita" of Theseus (20.3-.5). According to the myth that was current at Amathus, the second most important Cypriote cult centre of Aphrodite, Theseus' ship was swept off-course and the pregnant and suffering Ariadne put ashore in the storm. Theseus, attempting to secure the ship, was inadvertently swept out to sea. The Cypriote women cared for Ariadne, who died in childbirth and was memorialized in a shrine. Theseus, returning, overcome with grief, left money for sacrifices to Ariadne and ordered two cult images, one of silver and one of bronze, set up. At the observation in her honour on the second day of the month Gorpiaeus, one of the young men lay on the ground vicariously experiencing the throes of labour. The sacred grove in which the shrine was located was called the grove of Aphrodite Ariadne. [Edmund P. Cueva, "Plutarch's Ariadne in Chariton's Chaereas and Callirhoe" "American Journal of Philology" 117.3 (Fall 1996) pp. 473-484.]

In reading the account, the primitive aspect of the cult at Amathus would appear to be much older than the Athenian-sanctioned shrine of Aphrodite, who has assumed "Ariadne" ("hagne", "sacred") as an epithet at Amathus.

Reference in post-classical culture

Non-musical works

* "Ariadne auf Naxos" is a poem by Heinrich Wilhelm von Gerstenberg.
* "Ariadne" is a story by Anton Chekhov.
* "Klage der Ariadne" is a poem by Friedrich Nietzsche.
* Metaphysical painter Giorgio de Chirico painted eight works with a classical statue of Ariadne as a prop.
* "Ariadne" was a 1924 play by A. A. Milne.
* The HMS Ariadne is the name of a ship in Alistair MacLean's 1986 novel "Santorini".
* Claudia Crawford, "To Nietzsche: Dionysus, I love you! Ariadne" was published by State University of New York Press, Albany in 1995.
* John Dempsey's 1996 "Ariadne's Brother" is a novel on the fall of Bronze Age Crete.
* Ariadne is an important character in Sara Douglass's historical fantasy series The Troy Game, published by HarperCollins 2002-2006.
* "Ariadne" is the protagonist of Montreal writer Tess Fragoulis's 2001 novel, "Ariadne's Dream".
* The Algerian-French writer, Hélène Cixous, callsFact|date=December 2007 Ariadne the anti-Ulysses.
* A planet called Ariadne is mentioned in the backstory of the 2002-2006 game series "Xenosaga".
* The Minotaur myth is referenced repeatedly as a metaphor over the course of the trilogy "The Golden Age", culminating at the end with a newly "born" machine-mind adopting Ariadne as her name.
* "Ariadne Oliver", a friend of the detective Hercule Poirot in many of his detective mysteries written by Agatha Christie.
* In the video game , the brand of nail polish used by Kristoph Gavin (and later also by Vera Misham) is called Ariadoney.

Musical works

* Richard Strauss's standard repertory opera "Ariadne auf Naxos" was preceded by a "L'Arianna" each by Claudio Monteverdi and Carlo Agostino Badia, by non-operatic "Ariadne auf Naxos" works including a cantata based on the Heinrich Wilhelm von Gerstenberg poem and Jiri Antonin Benda's melodrama "Ariadne auf Naxos (Benda)", and by Joseph Haydn's cantata "Arianna a Naxos".
* Carl Orffs "Klage der Ariadne" is an adaption of Claudio Monteverdis Lamento d'Arianna.
* "Ariadne" is the title of a Rock 'N' Roll song written in 1959 by Eddie Love and Stu Shermeroff and recorded by Eddie Love and the Lovers.
* "Ariadne" is a song in "The Frogs", a musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, book by Burt Shevelove, revisions by Nathan Lane. In this song, Dionysus reflects on his marriage to Ariadne.
* "Ariadne's Thread" is a song by the screamo band Saetia and is featured on their 1997 self-titled album as well as their end of career collection, "A Retrospective."
* "Ariadne" is a song by The Crüxshadows on their 2007 album DreamCypher
* "Thread" is a ballet with music by Paul Drescher and Choreography by Margeret Jenkins. It was premiered by San Francisco Ballet in April 2008
* "Ariadne" is a song by Dead Can Dance on their 1993 album Into the Labyrinth
* "Ariadne" appears on Apurimac III by Cusco
* "Ariadne Sleeping" is an instrumental piece by The Clientele on their Ariadne EP.
* "All My Love" is a song by Led Zepellin which mentions Adriane under the French-derived name Arianne, with references to the labyrinth story.



*Kerenyi, Karl. "Dionysos: Archetypal Image of Indestructible Life". Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1976.
*Peck, Harry Thurston. "Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities" (1898).
*Ruck, Carl A. P. and Danny Staples. "The World of Classical Myth." Durham: Carolina Academic Press, 1994.
*Barthes, Roland, "Camera Lucida". Barthes quotes Nietzsche, "A labyrinthine man never seeks the truth, but only his Ariadne," using Ariadne in reference to his mother, who had recently died.

External links

* [ Theoi Project - Ariadne]

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  • Ariadne — ARIADNE, es, (⇒ Tab. XX.) des Minos II, und der Pasiphae, oder, auch nach andern der Crete Tochter, Apollod. lib. IV. c. 1. §. 2. verliebete sich in den Theseus, als solcher unter den Atheniensern, welche dem Minotaurus sollten vorgeworfen werden …   Gründliches mythologisches Lexikon

  • Ariadne — {{Ariadne}} Tochter des Königs Minos* von Kreta und der Pasiphae*, Schwester der Phaidra*. Ariadne gab Theseus** vor seinem Gang ins Labyrinth den »Faden der Ariadne«, ein Garnknäuel, das er vom Eingang her abwickeln sollte, um später den Rückweg …   Who's who in der antiken Mythologie

  • Ariadne — Ariadne. Die Tochter des Königs von Kreta, Minos des Zweiten. Als Theseus von Athen ausgezogen war, um jenen schimpflichen Tribut von Jünglingen und Mädchen zu lösen, welche die Athener alljährlich nach Kreta senden mußten, damit sie dem… …   Damen Conversations Lexikon

  • Ariadne — f From classical mythology: the name of a daughter of the Cretan king Minos. She gave the Athenian hero Theseus a ball of wool to enable him to find his way out of the Labyrinth after killing the Minotaur. He took her with him when he sailed from …   First names dictionary

  • ARIADNE — silia Leonis Imperatoris, mater Leonis, hôc mortuô, Zenoni, Leonis successori nupsit, qui a Basiliseo pulsus in Italiam cum uxore confugit, postea in Imperium restitutus, vitiis infamem vitam egit. Hic cum quôdam die somnô vinôque esiet sepultus …   Hofmann J. Lexicon universale

  • Ariadne — [ar΄ē ad′nē, er΄ē ad′nē] n. [L < Gr Ariadnē] Gr. Myth. King Minos daughter, who gives Theseus the thread by which he finds his way out of the labyrinth …   English World dictionary

  • Ariadne [1] — Ariadne, 1) Tochter des Minos u. der Pasiphaë. Als Theseus unter den Opfern für den Minotauros nach Kreta kam, verliebte sich A. in ihn u. zeigte ihm, wie er den Minotauros tödten u. durch einen gegebenen Fadenknäul aus dem Labyrinth entkommen… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Ariadne [2] — Ariadne, Sternbild der nördlichen Krone …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Arĭadne — Arĭadne, Tochter des Königs Minos von Kreta und der Pasiphaë, gab, in Liebe entbrannt, dem Theseus (s. d.), als er den Minotauros zu töten kam, ein gefeites Schwert und einen Faden (daher Ariadnefaden), mittels dessen er sich nach vollbrachter… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Ariádne — Ariádne, Tochter des Königs Minos von Kreta und der Pasiphaë, verhalf dem Theseus nach Tötung des Minotaurus mit einem Fadenknäuel (Ariadnefaden) zur Rückkehr aus den Irrgängen des Labyrinths, flüchtete mit Theseus, wurde aber auf der Insel Naxos …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

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