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Ariadne (ariadne32.jpg--479x534)



Ariadne and Theseus (ariadne33.jpg--290x302)



Sleeping Ariadne (ariadne34.jpg--472x218)

Japanese version (japanv.gif--100x36)
May 29, 2003

When Theseus, son of the King of Athens, came to Crete, Ariadne, having fallen in love with him, offered to help him to disclose the way out of the Labyrinth if he would agree to take her to Athens and made her his wife. Theseus agreed and swore to do so, but after leaving Crete he deserted her in Naxos. There she was found by the god Dionysus, who fell in love with her.

Pasiphae looking at a bull with passion (pasiphae8x.gif--150x318)
Ariadne was a daughter of King Minos and Pasiphae. Ariadne provided Theseus with a sword to kill the Minotaur and a ball of thread to follow back out of the Labyrinth. After slaughtering the beast, which devoured seven youths and seven maidens supplied by Athens every year in a tribute exacted by Minos, Theseus escaped Crete with Ariadne. But he later abandoned her on the island of Naxos.

Ariadne and Theseus (ariadne33.jpg--290x302)

& Ariadne
Fortunately for Ariadne, Naxos happened to be the favorite island of Dionysus, son of Zeus and god of wine, who soon appeared, fell in love with her, and made her his wife.


Island of Ariadne

Map of Naxos (map of Naxos--302x343) animated greek flag (greekflg.gif--34x26)

Naxos and beach (naxos02.jpg--242x203 Naxos harbor at night (naxos15.jpg--253x225

Naxos street (naxos03.jpg--200x231 Naxos beach (naxos14.jpg--268x193

Island of Naxos (naxos11.jpg--259x169 Naxos at sunset (naxos13.jpg--237x126

According to tradition Naxos took its name from the King of the Carians who were its first inhabitans, and they were succeeded by the Cretans and Ionians. Its early development, unlike the rest of the Cyclades, was not particularly involved with the sea owing to its being richly endowed with farmland.

Sleeping Ariadne (ariadne34.jpg--472x218) In ancient records it bore other names, such as Tragia, Dia, Strogili, Dionyssas, Mikra Skilia and Herakila. But it was perhaps best known as the island where Theseus callously abandoned the sleeping Ariadne on his way home from Crete, where she had helped him to kill the Minotaur.

Although the later marriage of Ariadne to Dionysus has become well-known, another sequel also remains in the minds of some people. In this rather sad tale, Ariadne threw herself to her death from the cliffs of the Palatia in the throes of inconsolable grief for the loss of Theseus.

The capital of the island has always been in roughly the same place, although it was originally known as Kaliopolis.

From the seventh century B.C. onwards the island became known for the high quality of the sculptures produced in its marble workshops including such masterpieces as the famous Lions of Delos and the huge statues of youths generally known as Kouros.

The door of Nexas (doornexa.jpg--237x220)
The Door of Nexas:
A marble door that stands at the seaside entrance to Naxos Chora. Lygdamis began construction of an edifice called the “hundred-foot” temple around 530 B.C., but only this door was completed.
In the sixth century B.C. Naxos reached the peak of its glory, under the leadership of the tyrant Lygdamis, whose eventual downfall, however, led to the abandoning of several ambitious building projects, such as the never completed Portara temple.

After the Persian war in the fifth century B.C. Naxos came unter Athenian rule and later passed to the Macedonian Empire in the fourth century B.C. Later the island came into the hands of the Egyptian Ptolemies, and yet afterward received its orders from Rhodes as part of the Roman empire.

Cristianity came to the island early, brought by the apostle John from Patmos in the first century B.C. while the Romans still remained in power. Their successors, the Byzantines, lost control of the island to the Venetians during the Fourth Crusade.

In 1204 Marco Sanudo took over Naxos and organized most of the archipelago into a Duchy of Naxos with himself as the first Duke. He and his successors continued in power until the Turkish take-over in 1566, when the infamous Barbarossa conquered and plundered the island. Turkish rule was brirfly interrupted by the Russians in 1770-1774 and was finally enden by 1821 war of Independence in which Naxians played a formidable part. In 1828 the island was finally united with the rest of Greece.


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why did Theseus abandon Ariadne after she helped him so much?
    - Judy Sunders

There are many different accounts as to why he left her there.
  • Some say that she was seen by the Wine God Dionysus, who fell in love with her on the spot and sent Theseus off.
  • Others say, Athena appeared to him in a dream and commanded him to do so because she was destined to marry Dionysus.
  • Theseus deserted her because the priest in the island told him that she could only have female children.
  • One version of the story denies that Theseus abandoned Ariadne of his own free will. He stopped at the island to let her recover from seasickness. However, a strong wind blew his ship away from the island when he returned after he had placed Ariadne in a secured cottage.
  • When he reached the island, Theseus thought it over, and fearing to take home as his wife the daughter of king who had exacted such cruel tribute from his homeland, he decided to abandon Ariadne on the island.
  • Still, some claim that Theseus was so anxious to be rid of her that he left her not on Naxos, but on Dia, a tiny island off Crete, just beyond the harbor of ancient Knossos—within sight of her father’s domain.
  • Others say that Theseus simply forgot her and when he came back for her she had died. Anyway, whatever the reason, Ariadne was left there and her heart was broken. After her death, a beautiful golden crown, which Theseus had previously bestowed upon her to show his love, floated up into the sky and the jewels on it created the constellation Corona Borealis.

    - Akira
Copyright Akira Kato
About this author:
  • Educated both in Canada and Japan
  • Traveled extensively in Europe, Far East, and North America
  • Worked as management consultant, computer systems analyst, college instructor and freelance writer.
Akira Kato

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