In mythology, daughter of King Minos of Crete. She helped Athenian Theseus to track the Minotaur by giving him a thread to follow and using a shining wreath. She is shown with him approaching the Minotaur in early art, and at his celebration dance (the 'geranos' or crane dance) afterwards. He takes her to Naxos, where he abandons her; there are scenes of her sleeping while he steals away. Dionysos finds her and she becomes his consort, especially in later classical art.
Above left: Theseus leaves Ariadne. Detail from Athenian red-figure clay vase, about 500-450 BC. Tarquinia, Museo Nazionale RC5291. Photo. Gabinetto Fotographico Nazionale, Rome E91266 © Gabinetto Fotographico Nazionale, Rome
Above right: Dionysos and Ariadne. Detail from Athenian black-figure clay vase about 575-525 BC. London, British Museum B168. Photo. BM CIV C 19 © London, British Museum