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Ariadne: Kierkegaard’s View on Women, Life, and Remorse

ByFilipa Afonso

In Greek mythology, Ariadne is the Cretan princess, the daughter of King Minos and Pasiphae, who helped Theseus to escape the labyrinth, where he would most certainly have been devoured by the half-man, half-bull, man-eating Minotaur. According to myth, every nine years, fourteen young Athenians were to be sent as a sacrificial tribute to the Minotaur, to the Cnossian labyrinth, where the beast was imprisoned. Theseus, the son of the King of Athens, Aegeus, was determined to end this Athenian curse, and so he volunteered to be thrown in the maze. Arriving at the Cretan shores, Theseus, inspired Ariadne’s love, persuaded her to help him kill the beast and evade the labyrinth. And so she did. As Theseus entered the labyrinth, Ariadne gave him a ball of yarn, which Theseus was to unwind throughout his journey in order that he might retrace his path to the maze’s exit. Concerning what happened next, Ariadne’s fate varies according to the different literary sources of the myth. There seems to be some agreement that Ariadne and Theseus fled to the island of Naxos. Nevertheless, while some accounts have it that Ariadne was then killed by Artemis,1 or that Dionysus strained Ariadne and Theseus’ marriage on account of her betrayal,2 others, however, claim that Theseus voluntarily abandoned Ariadne.3 Ariadne’s fate, after being left behind, remains however uncertain, since she either brings her own life to end, or is rescued by Dionysus whom she later marries.4