Thursday, November 5, 2020
In Greek mythology, Ariadne was the Cretan princess who aids the Athenian Theseus in defeating the Minotaur in the labyrinth. Ariadne was the subtlety to Theseus’ destructive power. According to some versions of the story, Theseus promises to marry her but then abandons her on Naxos. There, the God Dionysus becomes her lover. Theseus abandoning Ariadne is humanity leaving its possibilities of growth and health, in favour of the turn towards European modernity; and an abandonment of the mythic feminine in favour of a misunderstood masculine. Ariadne thus stands as a representative of the specific greatness of Greek humanity, desirous of the Dionysian. The poem, ‘Ariadne’s Lament’, portrays this desire for the Dionysian. We moderns may have more scientific knowledge, but it has not made us more exceptional beings, quite the contrary – our subtle understanding. Thus, only in giving up a narrow conception of the utility of knowledge, of progress as preservation and the alleviation of suffering, and other such ‘heroic’ modern achievements, will growth and beauty of the human be possible again.