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We have seen in the story of Theseus how Ariadne, the daughter of King Minos, after helping Theseus to escape from the labyrinth, was carried by him to
the island of Naxos and was left there asleep, while the ungrateful Theseus pursued his way home without her. Ariadne, on waking and finding herself
deserted, abandoned herself to grief. But Venus (Aphrodite) took pity on her, and consoled her with the promise that she should have an immortal lover,
instead of the mortal one she had lost.
The island where Ariadne was left was the favourite island of Bacchus, the same that he wished the
Tyrrhenian mariners to carry him to, when they so treacherously attempted to make prize of him. As
Ariadne sat lamenting her fate, Bacchus found her, consoled her, and made her his wife. As a marriage
present he gave her a golden crown, enriched with gems, and when she died, he took her crown and
threw it up into the sky. As it mounted the gems grew brighter and were turned into stars, and
preserving its form Ariadne's crown remains fixed in the heavens as a constellation, between the
kneeling Hercules and the man who holds the serpent.
Spenser alludes to Ariadne's crown, though he has made some mistakes in his mythology. It was at the wedding of Pirithous, and not Theseus, that the Centaurs and Lapithae quarrelled.
"Look how the crown which Ariadne wore
Upon her ivory forehead that same day
That Theseus her unto his bridal bore,
Then the bold Centaurs made that bloody fray
With the fierce Lapiths which did them dismay;
Being now placed in the firmament,
Through the bright heaven doth her beams display,
And is unto the stars an ornament,
Which round about her move in order excellent."
Sir Thomas Bullfinch
THE AGE OF FABLE OR STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES
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