Open Today: 10AM — 5PM Become a Member


Tales of Scandal and Intrigue: Sleeping Ariadne

Theseus made unscrupulous use of Ariadne (whom he left on an island where Bacchus later found her—I always think that really meant she took to drink, poor girl).—Diana Wynne Jones, author

Hey, Ariadne—it looks like life on a Mediterranean island isn’t all beaches and fun.  

When your brother the Minotaur is a true beast, your options for romance are limited.

This goes beyond mere teenage rebellion—helping a hottie named Theseus escape after he’s murdered your brother probably rubbed your father King Minos the wrong way.

You definitely deserved a nap after a night of mayhem and running away from home.

The hero wouldn’t have succeeded without your help—he’d still be wandering lost in the Minotaur’s labyrinth.

If only you had known how deep his betrayal would be before you woke up on Naxos abandoned by your new love and claimed by Dionysus.

Those lizards and snails crawling below your sleeping form are a foreshadowing of what awaits you when you wake up.

Talk about a love triangle for the ages!

Tell us it’s not all bad being claimed by the god of wine and pleasure—at least you get your own constellation, the Corona Borealis, at the end of it all.

Hope is an essential thread in the fabric of all fantasies, an Ariadne’s thread to guide us out of the labyrinth…Human beings have always needed hope, and surely now more than ever.—Lloyd Alexander, author

Come be entranced by Sleeping Ariadne firsthand in SAMA’s Denman gallery of ancient Roman sculpture.  See if you can locate the mosaic depicting a small maze while you are there.

Sleeping Ariadne, Roman, 2nd century AD, Marble, h. 18 in. (46.2 cm); w. 34 in. (86.7 cm); d. 12 1/4 in. (31.2 cm), Gift of Gilbert M. Denman, Jr., 86.134.149. Photography by Peggy Tenison.

Noël Bella Merriam
AT&T Director of Education, Diversity, and Inclusion 
Published February 15, 2021