Thursday, 1 September 2011

Women of Greek Myth: Ariadne

This is the second of my vignettes of women in Greek Myth. You can read the first, Medusa's story, by clicking on the link.


It is the silence that wakes me. No rhythmic anchor’s clank, no belly deep laughter of smooth-cheeked men of Athens. The screech of seagulls mocks me, white-winged, dipping low across the boundless wine-dark sea.

I raise my head, sleep-dimmed eyes searching a horizon stained blood-red by the dying sun. No black sailed ship breaks the white-flecked crests, no foaming trail carves the hissing waves.

I am alone.

I rise up from the bone-coloured sand, hands clutching my swollen belly. The wind whips my tunic and it clings to my legs like a shroud. The island curves around me, a verdant sarcophagus of pine trees and cypress. Theseus has left me, left me to die.

My cry echoes from the twilit sky, piteous. The wind brings it back to me like laughter. I wonder then if this is my curse, my punishment for fratricide. Was it not I that placed the golden thread into Theseus’ outstretched palms? Was it not I that left the Athenian’s sword in the gaping maw of the labyrinth? I am stained with his blood, my monstrous brother.

Is this the fate of the children of Pasiphae, to die at Theseus’ hands?

It is then I hear the wild music, smell the rich grape in the air. And I see a wild boy, dressed in goat skins, his eyes merry and his mouth stained purple with wine. He holds out his hands to me and smiles.

And I dance. I dance.

Photo by sarahmaeblogs


David A Ludwig said...

Really beautiful. Still loving how you handle the myths, they haven't been this alive for me since elementary school. The line that encapsulated this one for me was "Is this the fate of the children of Pasiphae, to die at Theseus' hands?"
I don't remember much of Theseus's story after the labyrinth actually, but he seems like a real jerk here. Very haunting ending too, with the dancing with the satyr (I assume?).

Meg McNulty said...

What a lovely compliment, thank you so much! The story goes that Ariadne helps Theseus but then is abandoned (possibly accidentally) or dies on Naxos. The myth is very mixed up with the myths around the God Dionysus. In some versions she is already married to Dionysus when she runs away with Theseus, in others she meets him after she is abandoned. I felt like I wanted to give her the possibility of a happy ending!

David A Ludwig said...

Thanks for the happy ending in that case! I do appreciate those, even if the occasional bad ending adds meaning to the happy ones.