For this week’s Femme Fatale Friday, I have decided to discuss the Greek Goddess Ariadne. In particular, I wanted to speak about her because she is the only Greek Goddess that was worshipped by the Celts!
The story of Ariadne is one that featured some of the most notable names of Greek mythology. She helped the hero Theseus defeat the Minotaur, which was technically her half-brother. Due to her being a daughter of Minos and his wife, she was also a niece of Circe, the first witch, and Goddess who was a lover of Odysseus, at least according to the most popular accounts. Medea, another great witch, was also a niece of Circe! This puts her in an already very magical family and can be used to help us understand why she is so connected to Greek divinity.
Some versions of her story state that she became the wife of Theseus, or at least his love interest. Yet, this is not the only version, as she is attested to as being the wife of the Wine God Dionysus! There are even tellings that have her being almost fought over by the two. In contrast, she is sometimes abandoned by Theseus and Dionysus comes to her rescue. Finally, there are versions where she chose to leave Theseus for the God! This is something that makes her a very interesting figure in Greco-Roman mythology.
It is strongly stated in many versions of her story that she and Dionysus had a great love for one another. In fact, there are tales of her dying tragically and of him fashioning her crown into the constellation Corona Borealis! Like other important figures so closely related to Gods in Greek myth, it is sometimes stated that she was given Goddess-hood after her death. This would put her in league with figures like Heracles (which is the Greek version of his name) and Psyche. Heracles ascended to God-hood after his mortal demise. Psyche was granted eternal life after her trials for Aphrodite, earning her place as the true wife of Eros! I find it a perfectly possible thing to have occurred, even if it is the less common version of the myths. This is especially true, given the patterns that we see within other Greek myths.
Now, as for her being worshipped by the Celts. I do not know exactly why she was the only one to be worshipped by the Celts out of the whole of the Greco-Roman Pantheon. However, I can theorize that it could be due to the various interpretations of her story. She can be seen as Queen of the Maenads since she was the wife of Dionysus. Maenads can be seen as Faery women and given the deep connection between Celtic Gods and the Fae it makes a great deal of sense! That is my interpretation of why she may have appealed to the Celts. I hope you have enjoyed learning about Ariadne and my theory of her Celtic connections. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!
Note on Image: The image at the top of the post is Waterhouse’s painting of Ariadne. I found the image on https://www.greeklegendsandmyths.com/ariadne.html.
- Ariadne by Jennifer Saint (This is a novel written about the story of this mythic woman!)