Ariadne is a major character in Greek mythology. She is the daughter of the Cretan King Minos. Theseus is an Athenian hero who Ariadne helped escape from the Labyrinth. With Ariadne’s help, Theseus was able to kill the Minotaur who lived in the Labyrinth. This is a beast that is half man and half bull. There are different stories concerning what happened to Ariadne after this occurred.
Ariadne’s story starts on the island of Crete. She is the daughter of King Minos. Her mother’s name is Pasiphae. She is said to have had many siblings such as Deucalion, Androgeus, and others. Ariadne is mortal.
Ariadne was a Cretan princess and only became known to the Athenians after her father conquered the city-state of Athens. King Minos demanded Athens pay him tribute. The form of this tribute was human sacrifices. It was required that seven maidens and seven youths from Athens be sacrificed to the Minotaur. The Athenian prince Theseus arrived at Crete. He was designated to be one of the youths who would be sacrificed to the Minotaur. When Ariadne saw Theseus, she instantly fell in love with him. Ariadne was watching everything going on with Theseus from a distance.
Ariadne secretly approached Theseus. She promised to help him defeat the Minotaur in the labyrinth. Ariadne said she would only do this on the condition that he marry her and take her back to Athens. Theseus readily agreed to marry the beautiful Ariadne. He even swore an oath that he would marry her. Ariadne then asked for help from Daedalus. He is the master craftsman who used his talent and skill to design and build the Labyrinth. Based on the instructions given to her by Daedalus, Ariadne gave Theseus a ball of thread. She told him to tie one end to the entrance of the maze. By following the thread it would be possible for Theseus to find his way back to the entrance of the maze. Ariadne also gave Theseus a sword. This is what Theseus used to kill the Minotaur in its lair.
After Theseus defeated the Minotaur, he gathered Ariadne and the other Athenians that were to be sacrificed to the Minotaur. They all set sail on the same boat that had brought Theseus and the others to Crete. The journey to Athens from Crete was a long one. Theseus decided to stop off on the island of Naxos.
There are two main stories concerning Ariadne. In one, Ariadne escapes aboard a ship with Theseus. Only the couple then lands on the island of Naxos. As Ariadne sleeps, Theseus abandons her. This is when Dionysus discovers her on the island and decides to make Ariadne his wife. Another story has Ariadne being slain by the goddess Artemis. Ariadne is a mortal. There is a story of her going up to Mount Olympus to be with her husband Dionysus who is immortal.
Reasons For Abandonment
It is often said that Dionysus demanded or encouraged Theseus to abandon Ariadne on the island of Naxos. Others have said that Theseus left Ariadne on the island without any influence from the god. There is also speculation that Theseus was very concerned about what would happen if he were to bring a woman who was a Cretan, as well as the daughter of Minos, home to be among the Athenians. She would have been their future queen. Some also believe Theseus was worried about trusting a woman who betrayed her own father so easily.
There are many versions concerning what happened to Ariadne. Homer wrote that Artemis killed Ariadne at the request of the god Dionysus. It is said that Dionysus had made a claim over Ariadne. He was upset that Ariadne could have feelings for a mortal lover and not feel more for an immortal god. It is also said that a gift of a crown that Ariadne gave to Theseus before going into the labyrinth had been a gift to her from Dionysus. This adds to the belief that Dionysus wanted Ariadne killed.
Marriage To Dionysus
It is said by some that Ariadne was not killed. She and Dionysus did get married. Since Ariadne was a mortal, Zeus would have to grant Ariadne immortality. This would result in the daughter of King Minos living forever. She would never age. When Ariadne and Dionysus wed, it was a common practice for the bride to be given gifts from other deities. One of the most notable gifts received by Ariadne would be the Crown of Ariadne. It was a gift from Horia and Aphrodite. A likeness of the crown would be placed by the gods among the stars of the constellation Corona.
Children of Ariadne
In the story of Ariadne becoming the wife of Dionysus, she gives birth to five children. They would be named Thoas, Oenopian, Peparethus, Staphylus, and Ceramus. All of them were acknowledged as being the sons of the god Dionysus. There were times when Staphylus and Oenopian were referred to as the sons of Ariadne and Theseus. Oenopian would eventually become the king of Chios. This is land that was given to him by his mother’s uncle named Rhadamanthys. Oenopian is well-known for being the one who blinded Orion as well as making wine.
Staphylus chose to live on the island of Naxos. He benefited from his family and especially being the nephew of Rhadamanthys. Ariadne’s son Staphylus was made a general in Rhadamanthys’ army. Ceramus was made lord of certain districts in Athens. Peparethus was made a king of an island that would be named after him. Thoas was also given land by his uncle Rhadamanthys. He was given the island of Lemnos. This is where he ruled before he was made king of Tauris.
There is a sacred grove in Cyprus where a shrine is located. It is known as the Grove of Aphrodite-Ariadne. According to the legend, Ariadne’s tomb is located within the sanctuary of Aphrodite-Ariadne. In Etruscan artwork, Ariadne is engraved in bronze, but the Athenian hero Theseus is never shown to be with her.
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