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Photographer's Note

Ariadne sleeping, detail:
Mosaic from 200-250 AD, Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki.


The image of the Sleeping Ariadne was very popular in ancient art, appearing on pottery and in painting, sculpture and mosaic all around the Graeco-Roman world, from Britain to North Africa (e.g. Morocco, Tunisia and Lybia) and Asia.


There are many versions of the Greek myths concerning Ariadne (Ἀριάδνη), "the darling of the gods", the daughter of Pasiphae and King Minos of Crete. As Plutarch wrote, probably in exasperation: "There are many other stories about ... Ariadne, but they do not agree at all." (Life of Theseus, 20.1)

But the jist of the best known story is that she helped the Athenian hero Theseus kill the Minotaur and escape from Minos' labyrinth by giving him a length of thread she had been given by Hephaistos. Theseus promised to marry her, and she sailed from Crete with him. However, he abandoned her on the island of Naxos (Dea).

While asleep there she was discovered by Dionysus, the god of wine, revelry and rebirth, and his thiasos (retinue). "Amazed by her beauty", he fell in love with her and she became his wife.

In other versions Dionysus forced Theseus to leave her or warned him to do so in a dream. In yet another version, she was killed on Naxos by Artemis, and Dionysus brought her back to life.

When she died, Dionysus transformed her into the ring of stars known as Ariadne's Crown (the Corona constellation).

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Additional Photos by Alex Fan Moniz (LondonBoy) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 100 W: 0 N: 701] (2700)
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