Greek and Roman myths (Part 1)

Theseus and the Minotaur, Attic Black Figure, ca. 490 B.C - 480 B.C., Tampa (FL), Museum of Art, 86.36

Photograph by Maria Daniels, courtesy of the Tampa Museum of Art, October 1991 Illustration of Tampa 86.36

Different versions of the myth of Ariadne and Theseus

Ariadne from Theseus to Dionysus

Catullus, Poem 64, The Wedding of Peleus and Thetis

A poem by Catullus including the story of Theseus and Ariadne (starting around line 50). This part of the poem starts with Theseus leaving Ariadne on the Island of Naxos (called Dia in the poem). The poem briefly revisits the story of Theseus landing on Crete and Ariadne falling in love with him. Ariadne left her home and family to be with Theseus only to be deserted on and island while she slept. Ariadne's anger grows as she thinks about all that he had promised her. Around line 207 we learn that Theseus forgot to raise the flags to show his father, Aegeus, that he had safely returned. Around line 250 Ariadne is picked up by Dionysus (called Bacchus in the poem).

by: Andrew Moeller


Theseus' Lineage

From: Plutarch, Lives (ed. Bernadotte Perrin) Theseus 3.1

The lineage of Theseus starts on his father's side and goes back to Erechtheus and the first children of the soil. On his mother's side it goes back to Pelops who was one of the strongest of kings in Peloponnseus. Pelops had many children and one of his sons was Pittheus who was the grandfather of Theseus.

by: Allie Coutts


Ariadne's Lineage

From: Apollodorus, Library and Epitome (ed. Sir James George Frazer)

Ariadne was the daughter of Minos, king of Crete, and Pasiphae, daughter of the Sun. Ariadne's brothers were Catreus, Deucalion, and Androgeus. Her sisters were Acalle, Xenodice, and Phaedra.

by: Andrew Moeller


Wedding of Ariadne and Dionysus

From: Xenophon, Works on Socrates Symposium 9.1

This is the story of the wedding celebrations of Ariadne and Dionysus. The story starts with Ariadne waiting for Dionysus to show up at their wedding banquet. Then when he arrives at the celebration, the party starts. During the party the guests overhear Dionysus asking Ariadne if she loves him and she says yes. Then Dionysus and Ariadne leave to go to their bridal couch and everyone else leaves as well. Those that were not married go to find wives and those that are married hurry home to their wives.

cameo plaque: Bacchus and Ariadne; Roman
Paris, Louvre Museum. Credits: Barbara McManus, 1999
Keywords: mythology, Dionysus

by: Allie Coutts


Ariadne to Theseus

From The Epistles of Ovid, by P. Ovidius Naso, Poem 10

Ovid wrote this letter from the point of view of Ariadne, in which she describes vividly to Theseus the torture through which he has put her. Waking up on an autumn night to find Theseus’ side of the bed empty, Ariadne goes into a panic and frantically scours the house in vain search of her missing lover, all the time tearing at her hair and beating her breast. The house yielding nothing, Ariadne rushes outside, eagerly scanning the shore for any sight of him, her fear mounting with every passing moment as her still sleepy eyes fail to discern any trace of Theseus. She cries out to him, but the only response is the echo of her voice from the surrounding rocks, calling his name. Fueled on by sheer passion, she climbs a nearby rock face, and from this heightened perspective Ariadne glimpses the white sails of Theseus’ ship far out at sea. In desperation she cries out to him to turn back toward her, screaming when she can’t find words for her emotions. She flails her arms about in an attempt to catch Theseus’ eye, and even tries waving a white robe on a pole, but to no avail. Finally, the ship having disappeared on the horizon, Ariadne falls silent in shock. Afterwards she returns to bed, laying in the warm place where Theseus’ body laid before, lamenting her loss, unable to understand why she has been so cruelly abandoned. Finding herself completely alone, Ariadne longs for death. She wishes Theseus had killed her before leaving her so that she had felt no pain, or that she had simply let her brother the Minotaur kill Theseus and they had never been lovers.

by: Becca Goldknopf

Analysis of Ariadne and Theseus


*Later versions of the myths (part 2)

poems by Browning

Analysis of Poems by Browning

Analysis of Giorgio Paintings

Analysis of Ariadne auf Naxos


Ariadne & Theseus Home page

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