The Many Stories of Ariadne’s Life and Love

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Detail of ‘Bacchus and Ariadne’ (1820) by Antoine-Jean Gros. Source: Public domain

The Many Stories of Ariadne’s Life and Love

One of the largest Bronze Age archaeological sites in Crete is the palace ruins at Knossos. The passageways have an elaborate layout and one can still see murals that show a sport in which men would jump over bulls. There are physical signs and connections between the mythological stories related about the fabled inhabitants of the palace and the unearthed ruins of the building, suggesting that this sport is connected to the legend of the Minotaur, a mythical hybrid monster of man and bull.

Among these fabled occupants is Ariadne. It is possible that Ariadne was once revered as a deity, and she was perhaps “the Lady of the Labyrinth” mentioned in certain Linear B inscriptions from the Mycenaean era (c. 1700–c. 1050 BC). But in Greek mythology, Ariadne famously assisted the hero Theseus in overcoming the hideous half-bull, half-man Minotaur and making his way out of the Labyrinth, the terrifying labyrinth beneath the palace of Knossos in Crete that was commanded to be constructed by her father, King Minos of Crete.

Ariadne on the Derveni Krater, dating to the 4th century BC. (Michael Greenhalgh / CC BY-SA 2.5)

Ariadne on the Derveni Krater, dating to the 4th century BC. (Michael Greenhalgh / CC BY-SA 2.5)


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