HumanitiesWeb.org - "Ariadne" by John William Waterhouse [Selected Works]
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Ariadne

1898: private collection

"Whan Adryane his wif aslepe was
For that hire syster fayrer was than she,
He taketh hire in his hond and forth goth he
To shipe, and as a traytour stal his wey,
Whil that this Adryane aslepe lay."

This is an excerpt from Geoffrey Chaucer's "The Legend of the Good Woman". The legend is that Ariadne, the daughter of King Minos, helped Theseus to escape from the labyrinth of the Minotaur and was carried by him to the island of Naxos. When they arrived, the gods shrouded Theseus's mind with forgetfulness and he deserted her while she slept. When Ariadne woke, and found that she had been abandoned, she gave herself up to grief. Aphrodite took pity on her, and promised that she should have an immortal lover, instead of the mortal one she had lost. As Ariadne sat lamenting her fate, Bacchus found her, consoled her, and made her his wife. For her marriage gift he presented her with a golden crown, enriched with gems. When Ariadne died, he took her crown and threw it into the night sky. The gems turned into stars, and became a constellation.

 
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