Ariadni in Greek Mythology

Ariadni in Greek Mythology has become famous from the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur.

As mentioned in another post, the Greek name Ariadni (or Ariadne) is known since Ancient Greece. Numerous stories have been written about Ariadni, inspired by the original Greek myths.

In Greek mythology, Ariadni was the daughter of King Minos of Crete and his wife Pasiphae. Her name is mostly associated with Theseus and the Minotaur, as well as God Dionysus.

Ariadni and Theseus

When Theseus arrived in Crete to kill the Minotaur, Ariadni saw the young Prince from Athens and fell in love with him right away.

When Ariadni found out what he was going to do, she gave him a thread that he could use in the Labyrinth, so as to find his way back if he could kill the mighty monster Minotaur.

Indeed Theseus killed the Minotaur and managed to get out of the Labyrinth following the instructions of Ariadni and using her thread. They decided to get married so Ariadni left with him and his companion to return to Athens.

On the way back, Theseus’s boat stopped at the island of Naxos. They had a feast and when they felt asleep god Dionysus appeared at Theseus dreams and told him that he had to leave without Ariadni, because it was meant for the god to marry her.

Indeed, Theseus did not want to displease the god and left Ariadni in Naxos. Dionyssus married her and gave her a golden crown, bringing her to Olympus with him. Still today in Naxos, Ariadni is particularly honored and considered a goddess.

Ariadni in naxos
Ariadni in Naxos, painting by John Vanderlyn

Ariadni, Goddess of the Aegean Sea

Ariadni was also celebrated in many other islands such as in Crete, Delos, Cyprus and the Peloponnese Peninsula, as a Goddess of the Aegean Sea.

In Argos there is the temple of Krisios Dionyssus where there is – supposedly-a box with the ashes of Ariadni.

In Delos, there was a feast where the young people of the island would dance in memoriam of Theseus and Ariadni who saved the young men and women of Athens that were sent as a sacrifice to the Minotaur.

Alternative myths and feasts about Ariadni

There are some alternative myths regarding Ariadni as well:

  • There is a myth that Theseus left a statue of Aphrodite in Delos made by Dedalus, to make Ariadni forget her love about him.
  • In Cyprus, there is a legend that Theseus left Ariadni there pregnant and returned there after a while, only to find her dead following a huge storm.
  • In a forest in Cyprus there is a temple of the Aphrodisian Ariadni that used to be the the tomb of Ariadni, according to the myth.

Read more about Ariadni and Theseus


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