Ariadne was the wife of Dionysus in the Greek myths. She was the daughter of King Minos of Crete, and his wife Pasiphae. Pasiphae was the daughter of the sun god Helios and Oceanid Perse (an Oceanid was a type of water nymph). This gave Ariadne divine origins through her mother’s side.
When the Minotaur was ravaging Crete, a hero was needed to save the island. That hero came in the form of Theseus. Ariadne was in fact the one that would give Theseus the sword he used to slay the Minotaur! This fact makes her an aide to a hero.
After Theseus succeeded in his task, he and Ariadne would chose to elope. Although by most accounts of the myth Theseus and Ariadne were very much in love, the union would not last. There are two versions of the cause of their split. One version states that Ariadne was seduced away from Theseus by Dionysus. The second states that Ariadne was already married to Dionysus, and she returned to him. One thing is for certain, and that is that she was the love of Dionysus’ life! She feels to me like the ancient Greek version of Pattie Boyd (who married two different rock stars, first George Harrison and then Eric Clapton).
Ariadne would give Dionysus several children including Oenopion (the personification of wine) and Staphylus (the personification of grapes) as well as Thoas, Peparethus, Phanus, among others. She proved herself as a worthy consort to this powerful deity!
There are two versions of the death of Ariadne (as she was not immortal). The first version had her killed by Perseus, and the second version had her hanging herself. No matter which version of the death myth is used the end is that Dionysus would take her crown and seat it among the stars. This became the constellation Corona Borealis!
I hope you have enjoyed this post on the wife of Dionysus. Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below!
Note on Image: The image at the top of the post is Ariadne by Asher Brown Durand. I found the image on metmuseum.org.
- Mythology by Edith Hamilton
- Age of Fable by Thomas Bulfinch