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Paintings › View › Ariadne 1898   
Consulting the Oracle (1882)
. Consulting the Oracle (1882)
St Eulalia (1885)
. St Eulalia (1885)
Mariamne Leaving the Judgement Seat of Herod (1887)
. Mariamne Leaving the Judgement Seat of Herod (1887)
Ophelia [lying in the meadow] (1905)
. Ophelia [lying in the meadow] (1905)
La Fileuse (1874)
. La Fileuse (1874)
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  bullet  1898 . Oil on canvas
  bullet  Private Collection
Actual Size (W x H): 151cm x 91cm [ 59.49" x 35.85" ]
John William Waterhouse: Ariadne - 1898 John William Waterhouse: Ariadne - 1898

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Ariadne was the daughter of King Minos of Crete. Minos had Daedalus build a Labyrinth, a house of winding passages, to house the bull-man, the Minotaur, the beast that his wife Pasiphae bore after having intercourse with a bull. (Minos had refused to sacrifice a bull to Poseidon, as the king promised, so the god took revenge by causing his wife to desire the bull--but that's another story.) Minos required tribute from Athens in the form of young men and women to be sacrificed to the Minotaur.

Theseus, an Athenian, volunteered to accompany one of these groups of victims to deliver his country from the tribute to Minos. Ariadne fell in love with Theseus and gave him a thread which he let unwind through the Labyrinth so that he was able to kill the Minotaur and find his way back out again.

Ovid says that Daedalus built a house in which he confused the usual passages and deceived the eye with a conflicting maze of various wandering paths (in errorem variarum ambage viarum) (Metamorphoses 8.161):

"so Daedalus made the innumerable paths of deception [innumeras errore vias], and he was barely able to return to the entrance: so deceptive was the house [tanta est fallacia tecti]" (8.166-68).
The Labyrinth

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