Fresco of Ariadne on Naxos

Fresco of Ariadne on Naxos

Ariadne auf Naxos belonged to the genre known as German melodrama, [3] an attempt is to merge spoken dialogue with music, making it the only form of opera with no singing. Brandes wrote the text of Ariadne auf Naxos for his wife Charlotte, a famous singer and actress of the day. She played the role of Ariadne in the premiere. The basis for Brandes' libretto was a cantata by Heinrich Wilhelm von Gerstenberg. However, Tim Ashley in his review of a 2005 performance of the work, suggests that Brandes may have been influenced by Virgil's Aeneid, "Theseus is a man of destiny and conscience Ariadne has no Bacchus to redeem her and instead commits suicide after seeing Theseus sail away". [4]

Mozart attended a production of Ariadne auf Naxos and became a great admirer of Benda's compositions. In 1778 he wrote to his father expressing the desire to compose a duodrama entitled Semiramide on the model of Benda's Ariadne auf Naxos and Medea. He believed at the time that melodrama was the way to solve the problems of operatic recitative. However, Mozart never got around to creating a duodrama. He did create a miniature melodrama within his unfinished operetta, Zaide, written in 1780. [5] Other composers who admired and were influenced by Benda's melodramas include Carl Maria von Weber and Ludwig van Beethoven. [4]

Although not performed often, Benda's Ariadne has remained in the performance repertoire since it first premiered and a number of recordings of the work have been made. Most recently, the work was performed in August 2005 at the Edinburgh International Festival in a double bill with Mozart's Zaide. The cast included Dagmar Manzel as Ariadne and Rainer Trost [de] as Theseus. Charles Mackerras conducted the English National Opera orchestra. [4]

Role Voice type Premiere Cast,
27 January 1775
(Conductor: – )
Ariadne speaking role Esther Charlotte Brandes
Theseus speaking role

Ariadne is sleeping on the shore of the island of Naxos, as Theseus, her lover, looks down on her resting form. Theseus feels there is a destiny placed upon him and feels that he can not stay tied to Ariadne and fulfill that destiny. He slips away from Ariadne on his ship, leaving her stranded alone on Naxos. Ariadne awakes to find herself deserted by the faithless Theseus. Ariadne despairs and commits suicide.

Ariadne Minoan Fertility Goddess

With the destiny of mortals in her hands, Ariadne was considered a bright goddess, often compared to Demeter—whose celestial origins were from Crete as well. In some ways Ariadne is analogous both to the goddess of the harvest—and her daughter Persephone—queen of the underworld. Predating patriarchy, the mother goddess’s role was paramount—in agricultural societies religion was centered on fertility and everything was centered on religion. Because Minoan Crete was a matrilineal society with women leading lives of independence, like all goddesses in the Minoan pantheon, Ariadne ruled alone without a male consort. Toward the close of the Minoan civilization—with the Mycenaeans’ influence keenly felt—Ariadne began to be accompanied by a young male consort. Her insignia, the labyrinth—a square or circular structure with multiple circuits spiraling to the center and back again—figures prominently in her mythology and is believed to have been a place of initiation where mortals moved from one realm to another with the bull-god—the Minotaur (Hades-like)—occupying its deepest and darkest center.

What You’ll See Today in Knossos

While the ruins of Minos’ palace at Knossos were discovered, the labyrinth itself never was. Still, the Palace of Knossos is impressive. The archaeological grounds are one of Crete’s most important sites, and Knossos has been referred to as the oldest city in Europe, dating back to 2,000 B.C.

The Palace at Knossos was built on a large scale, originally with over 1,200 rooms, and there is a lot to see beyond the major attractions like the Throne Room and the Horns of Consecration. There are shrines, frescoes, and halls almost everywhere you turn, and this is one place I recommend you book a guided tour. There is a lot of history and mythology woven into this site, and a 90-minute tour with a good guide brings it to life. Guided tours can be organized in advance or at the ticket office when you arrive.

Dionysus finds sleeping Ariadne on the island of Naxos.

Dionysus rescues Ariadne on Naxos

Ariadne, asleep on the skin of a panther or tiger and covered with a green cloth, leans her upper body on a white cushion with red and yellow stripes. We see her from behind, as she rests her head on her right upper arm with her left arm crooked over her head. This crooked arm is the ancient gesture of “erotic repose”. Over her we see the figure of Hypnos (Sleep), who holds a golden cup in his left hand while holds a branch in his right hand to sprinkle the sleeping Ariadne. The head is especially expressive, with all of Hypnos’ attention on the branch in his right hand.

After Ariadne helped Theseus escape from the labyrinth, he abandoned her on the island of Naxos. His ship sails off in the upper right. Dionysus and his retinue discover her sleeping the god falls in love with her and makes her his consort. Dionysus, wearing a long robe and carrying the thyrsus, has Silenus at his side, with two small Satyrs at Silenus’ feet. Behind Ariadne a young Satyr crowned with pine lifts the cloth that covers her and looks back at Dionysus while he raises his left arm in excitement. Between the Satyr and Dionysus are two Maenads. At the right a promontory extends out to the sea, with a circular tower at its end. Theseus’ boat escapes to the left of the tower.

The many devotees of Dionysus saw in this image salvation and perhaps even the hope of life after death. Especially for women devotees Ariadne’s good fortune in attracting the god was a model of the god’s devotion to them.

A god appears on earth and rescues a woman. This woman is loved by a god, admitted to the gods, achieves immortality, and marries a god. This same god (Dionysus) punishes Pentheus in central picture, east wall, of room n. The right-hand picture in room d shows Theseus abandoning Ariadne. A guest of the Vettii with a good visual memory would recognize these connections and could construct an interesting picture interpretation (ekphrasis) from these three Dionysian images.

Bacchus and Ariadne

Vittorio Maria Bigari (1692–1776)
Bacchus and Ariadne, ca. 1730–31 (destroyed 1943)
From Attilio Centelli and Gerardo Molfese, Gli affreschi di G.B. Tiepolo raccolti da Gerardo Molfese con uno studio di Attilio Centelli (Turin, 1897), pl. 10
Page of unbound book
23 1/2 × 17 5/8 in. (598 × 448 mm)
Azienda di Servizi alla Persona Golgi-Redaelli, Milan
su autorizzazione dell'Azienda di Servizi alla Persona Golgi-Redaelli di Milano

This triumphal scene of Bacchus and Ariadne in a chariot drawn by panthers celebrates the encounter between the god of wine and the beautiful Ariadne, who had been abandoned on the island of Naxos by Theseus. The fresco likely referred to the wedding, in 1731, of Filippo Archinto and Giulia Borromeo.


View of Naxos from the Portara

As I mentioned above, the Portara was the entrance to a temple. Sometime in the middle of its construction in the 5th century BC the temple was abandoned. The temple was eventually taken down for its marble, but the Portara remained standing. It was SO massive (20 tons!!) that it couldn’t be moved.


A Companion to the Archaeology of Early Greece and the Mediterranean offers an original and inclusive review of two key periods of Greek archaeology, which are typically treated separately—the Late Bronze Age and the Early Iron Age. It presents an in-depth exploration of the society and material culture of Greece and the Mediterranean, from the 14th to the early 7th centuries BC. The two-volume companion sets Aegean developments within their broader geographic and cultural context, and presents the wide-ranging interactions with the Mediterranean.

The companion bridges the gap that typically exists between Prehistoric and Classical Archaeology and examines material culture and social practice across Greece and the Mediterranean. A number of specialists examine the environment and demography, and analyze a range of textual and archaeological evidence to shed light on socio-political and cultural developments. The companion also emphasizes regionalism in the archaeology of early Greece and examines the responses of different regions to major phenomena such as state formation, literacy, migration and colonization. Comprehensive in scope, this important companion:

Outlines major developments in the two key phases of early Greece, the Late Bronze Age and the Early Iron Age
Includes studies of the geography, chronology and demography of early Greece
Explores the development of early Greek state and society and examines economy, religion, art and material culture
Sets Aegean developments within their Mediterranean context
Written for students, and scholars interested in the material culture of the era, A Companion to the Archaeology of Early Greece and the Mediterranean offers a comprehensive and authoritative guide that bridges the gap between the Late Bronze Age and the Early Iron Age.

Urban Relocation and Settlement Adaptation on Naxos from the Early to Middle
Byzantine Periods

From the mid-seventh century, the Aegean became unstable and the Cyclades were directly threatened by piracy and raiding. Textual and archaeological sources paint a clear picture of settlement movement from the coast and abandonment of sites on smaller islands. Naxos, as the largest island in the archipelago, is mountainous and well-watered in relation to the smaller neighbouring islands. The Naxian response to the crisis was to relocate the political and ecclesiastical capital of the island to a fortified mountain-top site in the interior. In constructing Kastro Apalirou, the builders needed to create new forms of architecture that would allow viable settlement at the waterless site. A domestic house type that used rooftop water harvesting and storage in basement cisterns became a dominant feature of the community. The large elite households of Antiquity were replaced with smaller and more compact domestic units. These developments can be seen as radical and resulted in a sustainable and enduring feature of Cycladic settlement—nucleated hilltop villages. Changes to the settlement pattern elsewhere on the island hint at social fragmentation and dispersal as churches become smaller and more numerous. In this paper, I present new data from recent research and argue that medium-sized islands have a greater ability to react to crisis and challenges compared to more central and mainland regions.

12th General Assembly of the DIAZOMA Association | September 2019.

On Wednesday 18th in the afternoon visit to Portara, on the islet of Palatia that has been associated with the worship of Ariadne.
On Thursday 19th afternoon visit to the archaeological site of Yria, that is associated with the worship of Dionysos.
On Saturday 21st, Professor Petros Themelis's speech entitled: “Ariadne in Naxos”.

Με αφετηρία τη μελέτη υλικού αποθετών που ανασκάφηκαν σταδιακά από τον μεσοπόλεμο έως τη δεκαετία του ’80 () στην περιοχή του Γυμνασίου στα νότια της αρχαίας πόλεως των Ναξίων, αποθετών που συσχετίζονται με ένα χαμένο, δυστυχώς, ιερό Δήμητρος, συζητείται το θέμα της παλαιότητας της λατρείας της θεάς στη Νάξο και στις υπόλοιπες Κυκλάδες, με έμφαση στη σχέση της με την κατανομή της κατοίκησης και το φαινόμενο της συγκρότησης της πόλεως.
Ειδικότερα, στη Νάξο πέραν του πιο πάνω ιερού, κατάλοιπα μιας πολύ πρώιμης λατρείας της θεάς έχουν εντοπισθεί στα βόρεια της πόλεως, στην περιοχή της Γρόττας. Επιπλέον, η λατρεία της τεκμηριώνεται και στην ενδοχώρα, στο ιερό του Γύρουλα, στο Σαγκρί, όπου συλλατρευόταν με τον Απόλλωνα. Το ιερό αυτό δύναται να συνδεθεί με την κατά κώμας της ευρύτερης περιοχής του.

The connection between the cult of Demeter and the distribution of habitation exemplified by the case of Naxos

From the interwar period until the1980s a number of wells - pits were excavated at the district of Gymnasion (High school) in the south of the ancient polis of Naxiwn. These pits are connected with a lost sanctuary dedicated to Demeter. Prompted from the study of the content of these pits, the following issues will be discussed: how old was the cult of Demeter in the Cyclades, what was the extent of its spread there, with emphasis on (a) the connection between her cult and the distribution of habitation and (b) the phenomenon of the emergence of the polis.
More specifically, in Naxos, besides the aforementioned sanctuary, remains of another early cult have probably been discovered on the north of the polis, at the site of Grotta. In addition, Demeter’s cult has also been documented in the hinterland, at the sanctuary of Gyroulas (Sangri), where a common cult with Apollo was practiced. This sanctuary might be related with the kata kwmas (κατά κώμας) habitation of its wider region.

Η Παναγία Πρωτόθρονος στο Χαλκί κατέχει ιδιαίτερη θέση μεταξύ των βυζαντινών μνημείων της Νάξου. Ο ναός είναι από τους μεγαλύτερους στο νησί, ανήκει στον τύπο του μεταβατικού σταυροειδούς εγγεγραμμένου, και χτίστηκε πάνω σε προϋπάρχουσα βασιλική της παλαιοχριστιανικής περιόδου. H θέση του ναού στο κεντρικό πόλισμα Xαλκί, το ιδιαίτερο μέγεθος, το μεγάλο σύνθρονο, τα επάλληλα στρώματα τοιχογράφησης και οι επιγραφικές μαρτυρίες υπογραμμίζουν την κεντρική σημασία της εκκλησίας αυτής και πιθανόν τη λειτουργία της ως επισκοπικού ναού.
Από τις πιο σημαντικές φάσεις της εκκλησίας είναι η φάση που έχει χρονολογηθεί στις τελευταίες δεκαετίες του 10ου αιώνα. Την περίοδο αυτή, η μνημειακή τρίκλιτη βασιλική μετατράπηκε σε σταυροειδή εγγεγραμμένο ναό μεταβατικού τύπου και διακοσμήθηκε με νέες τοιχογραφίες. Από αυτές διασώζονται η σύνθεση που διακοσμούσε τον τρούλο (που σήμερα εκτίθεται στον Πύργο Γλέζου), λιγοστά κατάλοιπα στο ιερό βήμα του ναού και σκηνές στη νότια και βόρεια κεραία του σταυρού. Από τις παραστάσεις αυτές και την ανάγνωση των ειληταρίων των προφητών εκφράζεται έντονο θριαμβικό μήνυμα με σημαντική έμφαση στην ορθόδοξη πίστη και την ευαγγελική διδασκαλία.
Η ανακαίνιση του ναού θα μπορούσε ενδεχομένως να ενταχθεί στο πλαίσιο μίας γενικότερης πολιτικής που επιδεικνύει η κεντρική πολιτική διοίκηση μετά το 961 με στόχο την επισφράγιση της βυζαντινής κυριαρχίας και την επίτευξη της ενότητας σε περιοχές πρόσφατα ανακτημένες. Θα μπορούσε να συνδεθεί επίσης με το νέο διοικητικό ρόλο που φαίνεται ότι απέκτησε η Νάξος στον 10ο αιώνα ως πρωτεύουσα πιθανότατα του νέου θέματος των Κυκλάδων. Σε κάθε περίπτωση, η φάση αυτή διακόσμησης στο σημαντικό αυτό ναό προέβαλλε τις αρχές της Ορθοδοξίας και της βυζαντινής πολιτικής κοσμοθεωρίας στους κατοίκους ενός νησιού με κεντρική σημασία στο χώρο του βυζαντινού Αιγαίου.
Η επόμενη φάση εργασιών ανακαίνισης στον ναό καταγράφεται στην εγχάρακτη στο επιστύλιο του τέμπλου επιγραφή, όπου μνημονεύονται ο επίσκοπος Λέων, ο πρωτοσπαθάριος και τουρμάρχης Ναξίας Νικήτας, ο κόμης Στέφανος ο Καμηλάρης και το έτος ανακαίνισης 1052. Η ζωγραφική διακόσμηση αυτής της φάσης (περ.1052-1056) εντοπίζεται σήμερα στον τρούλο (περ. 1052), και στο παρεκκλήσιο του Αγίου Ακινδύνου (1056). Σε αυτές τις τοιχογραφίες συμπυκνώνεται και διατυπώνεται εικαστικά η σημασία και ο ρόλος που αποκτούν την περίοδο αυτή οι κοινωνικές ομάδες που εκπροσωπούν οι νέοι δωρητές.
Οι δύο φάσεις διακόσμησης του ναού απηχούν βαθιά γνώση και σοφό χειρισμό επίκαιρων εικονογραφικών θεμάτων και μηνυμάτων εκ μέρους των εμπνευστών των εικονογραφικών προγραμμάτων, επιβεβαιώνοντας την ιδιαίτερη σημασία του ναού στην νησιωτική κοινωνία κατά τη μεσοβυζαντινή εποχή.

Seattle Opera Blog

In a mythic age, long before Pericles politicked at the Parthenon, or Aeschylus authored magnificent tragedies, or Socrates drank hemlock, Athens had to send seven young men and seven young women to Crete every few years to be sacrificed to Crete’s Minotaur until Prince Theseus ended this shameful tradition of tribute.

Aegeus, King of Athens and father of Theseus, killed himself by leaping off a cliff and into the sea that today bears his name when a ship with black sails returned from Crete, implying that his son was dead. Theseus had forgotten to switch to the white sails of victory, as his father had requested.

Prince, hero, slayer of monsters, and Ariadne's deceitful lover. After the events of this saga, Theseus goes on to wed Hippolyta the Amazon (in A Midsummer Night's Dream). Their son, Hippolytus, comes to a bad end in the myth of Phaedra (set beautifully to music by Benjamin Britten).

Island kingdom in the Mediterranean. The Bronze Age Minoan civilization centered on Crete predated the golden age of Athens by a thousand years. Twentieth-century archeology has unearthed evidence that a sport known as bull-dancing or bull-leaping, pictured above on a Cretan fresco, was a popular entertainment and ritual (something of a cross between gladitorial combat and modern bull-fighting). Perhaps that's the origin of the legendary combat between Theseus and Crete's Minotaur.

King of Crete and father of Princess Ariadne. Later one of the judges of the dead in the underworld. Crete's embarrassing curse begins when he fails to sacrifice a beautiful bull sent to the island by the gods.

Image: William Blake's illustration of Dante, who kept Minos in the Inferno.

Minos’ Queen and mother to Ariadne, the Minotaur, and Theseus' second wife Phaedra. She falls in love with the bull sent by the gods and, with the help of the clever inventor Daedalus, figures out a way she can have sex with it.

Those sacrificed to the Minotaur enter this inescapable maze from the castle of Minos on Crete.

Daedalus, clever inventor and slave to King Minos, invented both the bull-disguise Pasiphaë used to couple with the divine bull and the Labyrinth that imprisoned their demon-offspring. Daedalus also told Ariadne the secret of the Labyrinth — “Unroll a spool of thread as you go, so you can find your way back out." She passed the information on to her beloved Theseus, who killed the Minotaur and eloped with her. Minos, furious, imprisoned Daedalus and his son Icarus in the Labyrinth.

Inventor and son were lost in the Labyrinth, and this time without a spool of thread. So they made wings from wax and feathers and escaped by air. But young Icarus, delighted by the ability to fly, flew too high the heat from the sun melted his wax, his wings disintegrated, and he plunged to his death in the sea. Set to music by Daron Aric Hagen in Seattle Opera's 2010 world premiere, Amelia.

Painting by Frederic Leighton

Daughter of Minos, she takes pity on handsome Theseus—doomed to be sacrificed to her family’s Minotaur—and helps him defeat the monster and escape. But he maroons her on a desert island where, like so many opera heroines, she becomes donna abbandonata.

Painting by Evelyn De Morgan

Nowadays it’s a popular tourist destination in the Greek islands. But for poor Ariadne, it was a barren, desolate place, with only a Naiad, a Dryad, and an empty Echo for company.

Painting by Henri Fantin-Latour

Image: Photo, c. 1910, by John Cimon Warburg

Nymph who fell in love with Narcissus, a beautiful young man who wasted away lusting after his own reflection in a pond. Echo did her best to reflect Narcissus’s love back to him, but he never saw her and eventually she became invisible. You'll hear her echoing many of the other characters in Strauss's Ariadne auf Naxos.

Painting by John Waterhouse

God of wine, born from the explosive final encounter of Jupiter and Semele. Always a popular god, since worshipping him involves drinking wine! His first adventures take him to the islands of Circe and then Ariadne.

Painting by Simeon Solomon

Seductive witch, sister to Pasiphaë. Loves to invite sailors who visit her desert island to join her at a feast, only then to transform them into pigs. Odysseus resisted her wiles, as did Bacchus.

Princess of Thebes and beloved of Jupiter, who inadvertently kills her when she asks for it. Our last opera, Semele, concluded with the announcement that her child by Jupiter, Bacchus, would make all people happy forever after.

Photo of Seattle Opera's February production by Elise Bakketun

Finally, we get to the plot of Strauss's little opera! Ariadne has been marooned on Naxos by the faithless Theseus — or was it because Bacchus, who had fallen for her, told Theseus to take a hike? In Titian's famous painting Ariadne, left, yearns for the departing ship of Theseus, while Bacchus (with his entourage) approaches her. A crown of stars, overhead, indicates how Bacchus and Ariadne will be transformed into constellations when love makes them both divine.

Another thing: a sight fit for a god - the Vatican Sleeping Ariadne

Looking is what you're meant to do: the sculptor intended for you, the viewer, to observe this beautiful female figure, to take in what you can see of her.

A young woman, uneasily asleep, not quite lying, not quite sitting: leaning. She appears to have sat down on an uneven surface (a rock, maybe) to rest, and to have fallen asleep there, maybe from exhaustion, not too comfortably, resting her head on one arm and sort-of-covering it with the other. She's fully dressed in what appears to be a himation (a toga-like garment worn in Ancient Greece), although it has slipped a little, just revealing part of her breasts and part of her stomach. Her position is carefully designed, to invite our gaze to an extent, but with boundaries: the garments, masterfully rendered, are bunched up across the most private area of her body and her legs are crossed - there are limits to what we may see.

Another Roman copy, almost certainly of the same Greek original, in the Hermitage, Saint Petersburg. From Wikimedia Commons. Attribution: Yair Haklai / CC BY-SA (

Who is she, and why are we allowed to see her at this vulnerable moment? Short answer: she is an important heroine of Greek mythology and our glance of her asleep puts us - for an instant - in the shoes of a major Greek god.

On display in the Vatican Museums in Rome, she is a second-century AD Roman-era copy of a Greek sculpture from four or five centuries before, the second or third century BC. The original is lost, and may have been of marble or bronze. Scholars say that it was the work of the school of sculptors in the kingdom of Pergamon in Mysia (which is now in western Turkey), but none of that is certain. There are several versions of this figure in various museums (including superb ones at St Petersburg and in Florence), so the idea that they derive from a lost original is quite convincing, but we cannot really be sure what that original might have been. The copy, probably discovered in or near Rome around 1500, is made of marble from Paros in the Cyclades, a fine material that was widely exported across the Roman Empire.

Theseus slaying the Minotaur, as depicted on an Athenian black-figure vase from the 5th century BC. (Heraklion Archaeological Museum).

Let there be no doubt: the views that informed ancient Greek and Roman sculptors do belong to their own eras and might in some ways be objectionable nowadays. From a modern point of view, this image of a girl, vulnerable, asleep and partly exposed, has an air of voyeurism, even of objectification about it. Most of us would not like to be seen like this. That said, the ancient viewer would immediately recognise this figure and associate her with a story. It's worth noting, by the way, that female nudity is absent in Greek sculpture before the fourth century BC, and even after that it is largely limited to the goddess Aphrodite, whose domains include female beauty and eroticism. Our statue is not one of Aphrodite, but likewise refers to notions of female beauty and male desire.

So, who is this Sleeping Beauty?

It's Ariadne. She is one of the more interesting female characters in Greek myth. Too many girls in that set of tales are just the lust-interest of one god (usually Zeus) or another, making convenient mothers to so many demi-gods. Ariadne is a bit different. She is the daughter of the Cretan king Minos. As her father receives an annual tribute of Athenian boys and girls to be fed to his wife's bastard son, the half-bull, half-human Minotaur, she falls in love with the Athenian champion and prince, Theseus. She takes the initiative, helping Thesus overcome her monstrous half-brother, by giving him the string that will help him escape the labyrinth after slaying the monster.

Where it happened? The port of Naxos today.

Theseus, having promised to marry her, takes Ariadne with him on his journey back to Athens. They stop in Naxos for rest and supplies. Ariadne goes ashore to stretch her legs and somehow ends up asleep. There are essentially two versions of what happens next. Some say that Theseus desperately searches for her, is divinely prevented from finding her and eventually leaves. Others claim that he abandons her deliberately, leaving her to search around Naxos in increasing despair, until, exhausted, she falls asleep. Choosing between those versions makes a big difference to what you might think of Theseus, one of the founder heroes of Athens.

A fresco from the House of the Lyric Poet at Pompeii, depicting Dionysos discovering the sleeping Ariadne. First century AD, Naples, National Archaeological Museum.

Ariadne's fate, however is sealed. She's alone and asleep on Naxos - but not for long. She is found, just as we see her in that sculpture, by Dionysos (his Roman name is Bacchus), the god of wine, who was born on the island and frequently visits it. He sees Ariadne and falls in love instantly, so he wakes her and marries her in an exuberant celebration. As she is a mortal, she eventually dies, but Dionysos takes her from the Underworld, grants her immortality and brings her to Mount Olympus to be his spouse for eternity.

Quite a turn of events: following the desperation of her lonely abandonment, she becomes essentially a deity in her own right, partner to Dionysos, who is also the god of ecstasy, of celebration and, to be clear, of sex as an enjoyable activity. Ariadne is to be the mother of many of his children. Her wedding crown is placed permanently in the night sky, as the constellation corona borealis (the Northern Crown).

Dionysos and Ariadne as a divine couple on the first century BC Borghese vase, made of Attic marble, discovered in Rome and now in the Louvre, Paris.

The Vatican statue shows her at that key moment, after Theseus has gone and before Dionysos wakes her, vulnerable and alluring, but also tense and strong. It puts us, the viewers, in the position of Dionysos discovering her, a moment of change for her, but also for him and thus for the world, as seen through the lense of myth. The observation of a specific, personal, moment, as well as the play of perspective, putting us in the position of Dionysos or his retinue, make the Vatican Ariadne a masterpiece of Hellenistic sculpture.

You can see the statue itself in the Vatican Museums on our Exploring Rome tour, and depictions of Dionysos and Ariadne as the divine couple, a popular motif in art ever since, crop up on many of our tours and cruises of the ancient world.

Moreover, you can also visit some places directly associated with the myth: Ariadne's 'home' at the Palace of Knossos on Exploring Crete, Theseus' city on our tour of Athens, and of course the place where Ariadne's fateful slumber took place, alluring Naxos, on Cruising to the Cyclades. In each case, you're sure to discover many more stories like the one of Ariadne.

Watch the video: Strauss: Ariadne auf Naxos. Ariane à Naxos Aix 2018: Katie Mitchell, Sabine Devieilhe..