The Greek myth of Ariadne offers hope to all who have felt the sting of love rejected. It tells of triumph after defeat, of sweetest success after the harshest sorrow.
Princess Ariadne, daughter of King Minos of Crete, helped Theseus slay her monstrous half-brother, known as the Minotaur, by teaching him to use a golden thread as a path within the labyrinth where the Minotaur lived. Deep within that dark maze where no man or woman had ever survived the Minotaur’s savagery, Theseus killed the monster, then followed the gold thread to freedom. When he emerged triumphant from the labyrinth, Theseus claimed Ariadne for his own. They escaped from Crete upon a waiting ship, running from crowds of citizens angered by Theseus’s murder of their half-bull/half-human prince.
As they sailed the world, Ariadne was certain she had won the heart of the hero in return for her brilliance, her loyalty, and her love. After all, she had betrayed those closest to her to save Theseus. When Theseus finally brought their ship to the faraway island of Naxos, Ariadne thought they would live there forever in bliss. Instead, he abandoned her upon the island, sailing off without an apology. Such was her thanks for saving him.
Alone, Ariadne forgot her triumph as the untangler of the labyrinth. She was Ariadne the forsaken, Ariadne the foolish, rather than Ariadne the beloved of Theseus. At first, the heartbroken princess wept. Then she thought of killing herself out of shame and sorrow. But the Muses took pity upon Ariadne. They hovered around the poor girl as soft as winds, and whispered into her ear of a worthier love and a loftier fate. This made no sense to the girl, for she could not see beyond her abandonment by Theseus.
But soon Ariadne saw a bronze chariot appear on the horizon. The Muses whispered it held a new bridegroom for Ariadne, the man she was fated to love. As the chariot drew closer, Ariadne saw it was draped in vines and clusters of ripe grapes--for this chariot was driven by Dionysus, god of divine intoxication, who loved Ariadne for her passionate bravery and loyalty.
Ariadne’s heart was immediately healed by Dionysus’s admiration and loving embrace. She soon forgot about Theseus and accepted her happy fate. Dionysus and Ariadne were wed. Made a goddess by love, Ariadne lived forever with her immortal husband in ecstatic triumph.