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Ariadne (ărēădˈnē) [key], in Greek mythology, Cretan princess, daughter of Minos and Pasiphaë. She loved Theseus, and gave him the skein of thread that enabled him to make his way out of the labyrinth after killing the Minotaur. When Theseus left Crete, Ariadne went with him, but before they reached Greece, he abandoned her at Naxos. There the god Dionysus consoled and later married her. She bore him several children, including Oenopion, whom Dionysus first taught the art of winemaking. It was said that Zeus granted Ariadne immortality and that Dionysus set her bridal crown, the Corona Borealis, among the stars. Subsequent treatments include nearly 50 operas by Monteverdi, Handel, Massenet, Richard Strauss, Milhaud, Martinü, and others.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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