The picture of the bacchante who stands motionless and stares into space must have been well known. Catullus is thinking of her when he tells of the abandoned Ariadne, who follows her faithless lover with sorrowing eyes as she stands on the reedy shore ‘like the picture of a maenad.’ Indeed, melancholy silence becomes the sign of women who are possessed by Dionysus. […]
Madness dwells in the surge of clanging, shrieking, and pealing sounds, it dwells also in silence. The women who follow Dionysus get their name, maenads, from this madness. Possessed by it, they rush off, whirl madly in circles, or stand still, as if turned to stone.
—   Walter F. Otto, “Dionysus - Myth and Cult” (1933)

Ariadne. Sir Joshua Reynolds (English, 1723-1792). Oil on canvas.

Reynolds painted a number of so-called ‘subject pictures,’ in which he depicted his sitters in the guise of heroes and heroines from literature and mythology. The present sitter, once erroneously identified as Miss Elizabeth Ingram, is portrayed as Ariadne, a beautiful heroine of Greek mythology who is best known for helping Theseus overcome the Minotaur in Crete.


mythology posters || ariadne

No passage away from sea lies open, since the waves surround. There is no idea of escape, no hope. All is mute. All is empty. All points to extinction.

Yet my eyes will not cloud in death, and feeling will not leave my exhausted body.

Asterion’s body falls silently to the ground
everything stops and falls quiet in the labyrinth

the sword glistens in the setting sun
silver metal with rusty blood
Theseus shivers

Ariadne weeps for her fallen brother
tears hot like acid on his chest
fists clenched around his shoulders
the labyrinth weeps too
bushes swaying softly in a tender song
Theseus watches from afar with a heavy heart

Ariadne grabs the sword
ravished, silver and red
she will never forgive him

Theseus realizes, too late,
what will come

he tries to hide but the labyrinth traps him inside
bushes growing out of rotten earth
Ariadne slays him and drags his head
to the entrance of the labyrinth
his blood a red tread 
a warning

Asterion has never been the monster after all

- the death of Asterion | r.m