96. Dionysus and Ariadne

Once upon a time, Ariadne, daughter of King Minos of Crete, had sailed away with Theseus, son of King Aegeus of Athens, for Theseus had promised to marry her. But on the isle of Naxos, the faithless Theseus left her and sailed away, while Ariadne was sleeping.

Dionysus along with other Bakkhantes, discovered Ariadne sleeping on the shore of the isle of Naxos, and Dionysus fell in love with her amazing beauty. He cautioned the dance weaving Bakkhantes to remain quiet, while he gazed at the sleeping Ariadne, and compared her exquisite loveliness with the beauty of several goddesses.

When sleep flew away from Ariadne, she awoke and rising from the sand, looked around for Theseus. She loudly called for Theseus, but received only silence as a reply. Frightened that something untoward might have happened to her beloved Theseus, she frantically ran about the shore, trying to catch a glimpse of him or his ship, while repeatedly loudly calling his name. Finding Theseus and his ship absent, she slumped down on the sandy coast, realizing that Theseus had abandoned her. Crying with the kingfishers and the heavy murmuring shore, the Kydonian maiden scolded her sleep and the sea. She prayed to Boreas to bring back Theseus’ ship, but Boreas did not hear her prayer. The deserted Ariadne wept her sad fate in unending tears. Dionysus was enraptured to witness the lamenting Ariadne, for she looked more beautiful in grief.

Dionysus in his radiant godhead, approached Ariadne. He comforted her by saying that why did she weep for a faithless mortal, when she could become his wife, who was faithful and an immortal. With soothing words suffused in his charming voice, Dionysus calmed her, until Ariadne not only stopped crying but also began to laugh. Cheerfully, she threw all her memories of the cruel-hearted Theseus, in the sea. With joy in her heart, Ariadne married Dionysus and bore him many children.

Excerpt from the book “Once Upon A Time-II: 150 Greek Mythology Stories” by Rajen Jani

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