Analysis of Ariadne and Theseus

Love. Love is something that links everyone together in some way. For instance in many of the myths about Ariadne and Theseus, love is somehow incorporated into that myth. Catullus poem 64 tells the story of how Theseus and Ariadne fall in love and Xenophon, Works on Socrates Symposium 9.1 tells how Ariadne is madly in love with Dionysus after he rescues her from the island of Naxos where Theseus, her former lover, had left her asleep in their bed. Associated with love there is always some form of pain. In The Epistles of Ovid, by P. Ovidius Naso and in Catullus poem 64 Ariadne is saying how badly she is hurt by the fact that Theseus had abandoned her. This falling in love and leaving is what links Ariadne and Theseus together, which leads to Ariadne and Dionysus marrying. From this we see that the myths above are commonly linked through the power of love.

The want for love is what drives Ariadne to be the way she is. We see this in Catullus poem 64, lines 91-93, when Ariadne first sees Theseus:

"no sooner did she lower from him her incandescent eyes
than she conceived throughout her body a flame,
and totally, to the center of her bones, she burned."

This love is the reason why she helped Theseus defeat the Minotaur. Theseus is driven by whatever he wants, and doesn't really pay attention to what others want. The reason Theseus went to Crete could have been more for the reason to get fame than to help Athens. When Theseus leaves Ariadne, she becomes fueled with anger and loneliness, which causes her to easily fall in love with Dionysus, mending the broken heart she had because of Theseus.

The main pattern throughout the myths was the love Ariadne had for both Theseus and Dionysus. When Theseus left her, that love turned to anger. Leading Ariadne to have violent words against Theseus:

"So you've left me--you traitor! Me, taken from my family
altars--you traitor! On a deserted beach! Theseus!" ----Catullus poem 64 lines 132 and 133

Another pattern is the joyful and relaxed feeling during and after the wedding of Ariadne and Dionysus (Xenophon, Works on Socrates Symposium 9.1).

As stated before the unifying factor in these myths is love. The love Ariadne felt for Theseus drove her to aid him in escaping the Labyrinth, despite the fact that her own father had imprisoned him there and he would have to kill her half-brother to leave. Of the above myths, all those that tell or give reference to the story of Theseus and the Labyrinth agree on what occurred. The famous "thread" is mentioned by both Catullus (line 113) and Ovid (end of "Ariadne to Theseus"), whose accounts agree that it was given to Theseus by Ariadne so he could find his way.

In conclusion, these myths about Ariadne and Theseus place love at the heart of the story. Love can make people do crazy things, for example: it caused Ariadne to leave her family and all that she had in Crete for Theseus, leaving her with nothing. One can be sure that each of these myths is describing the same people and events, because they can all be logically linked together. They are consistent in their accounts of the relationship between Ariadne and Theseus, both its beginning and its brutal end. Love causes people to think illogically, following their love to whatever end. Fortunately for Ariadne Dionysus finds her, and they live a happy life together.

written jointly by all members


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