Asteroid Files: Ariadne

Helios on Ariadne
– Failure- Its a dirty word in our society. We are told to desire first place, and anything else is losing. Yet failure, loss and settling make us who we are- In tragedy we are revealed, not in success. This asteroid heroine knows that feeling well, and she has a lot to teach us….

The Astronomy– 43 Ariadne is a fairly large and bright main-belt asteroid. It is the second-largest member of the Flora asteroid family. It was discovered on April 15, 1857, and named after the ancient Greek heroine Ariadne (HEROINE, PEOPLE. Do you know how rare it is to have actual ancient Greek Heroines?) Ariadne is very elongate (almost twice as long as its smallest dimension) and probably bi-lobed or at least very angular. It is a retrograde rotator, although its pole points almost parallel to the ecliptic towards ecliptic coordinates (β, λ) = (-15°, 253°) with a 10° uncertainty. This gives an axial tilt of about 105°. Ariadne has an orbital period of 1195 days, or 3.27 years.

The Myth– Ariadne in Greek mythology was the daughter of Minos (the King of Crete and a son of Zeus) and Pasiphaë (Minos’ queen and a daughter of Helios [*coughs awkwardly*]) She is mostly associated with mazes and labyrinths because of her involvement in the myths of the Minotaur and Theseus. Her father put her in charge of the labyrinth where sacrifices were made as part of reparations (either to Poseidon or to Athena, depending on the version of the myth); later, she helped Theseus overcome the Minotaur and save the potential sacrificial victims. In other stories, she became the bride of the god Dionysus, with the question of her being mortal or a goddess varying in those accounts.

According to an Athenian version of the legend, Minos attacked Athens after his son was killed there. The Athenians asked for terms and were required to sacrifice seven young men and seven maidens to the Minotaur every seven or nine years. One year, the sacrificial party included Theseus, the son of King Aegeus, who volunteered to come and kill the Minotaur. Ariadne fell in love at first sight and helped him by giving him a sword and a ball of thread so that he could find his way out of the Minotaur’s labyrinth.

She eloped with Theseus after he achieved his goal, but according to Homer “he had no joy of her, for ere that, Artemis slew her in seagirt Dia because of the witness of Dionysus”. Homer does not expand on the nature of Dionysus’s accusation, but the Oxford Classical Dictionary speculates that she was already married to Dionysus when she ran away with Theseus.

In Hesiod and most other accounts, Theseus abandoned Ariadne sleeping on Naxos, and Dionysus rediscovered and wedded her. In a few versions of the myth, Dionysus appeared to Theseus as they sailed away from Crete, saying that he had chosen Ariadne as his wife and demanding that Theseus leave her on Naxos for him; this has the effect of absolving the Athenian culture-hero of desertion. The vase-painters of Athens often showed Athena leading Theseus from the sleeping Ariadne to his ship. With Dionysus, she was the mother of Oenopion, the personification of wine, Staphylus (related to grapes), Thoas, Peparethus, Phanus, Eurymedon, Enyeus, Ceramus, Maron, Euanthes, Latramys and Tauropolis. Her wedding diadem was set in the heavens as the constellation Corona Borealis.

Ariadne remained faithful to Dionysus but was later killed by Perseus at Argos. In other myths she hanged herself from a tree, like Erigone and the hanging Artemis, a Mesopotamian theme. Some scholars have posited, due to her thread-spinning and winding associations, that she was a weaving goddess, like Arachne, supporting this theory with the mytheme of the Hanged Nymph. Dionysus descended into Hades and brought her and his mother Semele back. They then joined the gods in Olympus.

Karl Kerenyi and Robert Graves theorize that Ariadne (whose name they derive from Άδνον, a Cretan-Greek form for arihagne, “utterly pure”) was a Great Goddess of Crete, “the first divine personage of Greek mythology to be immediately recognized in Crete”, once archaeology had begun. Kerenyi observes that her name is merely an epithet and claims that she was originally the “Mistress of the Labyrinth”, both a winding dance-ground and in the Greek view a prison with the dreaded Minotaur at its centre. An ancient cult of Aphrodite-Ariadne was observed at Amathus, Cyprus. According to the myth that was current at Amathus, the second most important Cypriote cult centre of Aphrodite, Theseus’s ship was swept off course and the pregnant and suffering Ariadne put ashore in the storm. Theseus, attempting to secure the ship, was inadvertently swept out to sea, thus being absolved of abandonment. The Cypriote women cared for Ariadne, who died in childbirth and was memorialized in a shrine. Theseus, overcome with grief upon his return, left money for sacrifices to Ariadne and ordered two cult images, one of silver and one of bronze, set up. At the observation in her honor on the second day of the month Gorpiaeus, one of the young men lay on the ground vicariously experiencing the throes of labour. The sacred grove in which the shrine was located was called the grove of Aphrodite Ariadne. The primitive aspect of the cult at Amathus in this account would appear to be much older than the Athenian-sanctioned shrine of Aphrodite, who has assumed Ariadne (hagne, “sacred”) as an epithet at Amathus.

Why She Matters
– Okay so I really, really like Ariadne. She’s always been a badass to me. She’s smart, she’s tough, and she’s brave AF, but acts out of love to do the right thing; She’s basically Hermoine Granger, the capable character who the brave boy heroes would be utterly lost without- She’s great. Unfortunately, no matter how you unpack her, her story never ends happily. Whether its abandoned by Theseus or gutted by Perseus or trapped in her family’s machinations, Ariadne seems doomed no matter what (which is the final test of whether she truly is a hero or not- no greek hero ever has a happy ending until they die). So what the hell does she mean astrologically?

Well, one theme that really sticks out is a lesson its taking me a long time to learn, and for this we turn to the only Virgo I respect, the Queen herself:

This seems to be what Ariadne is trying to tell us. You can want something with all your heart, you can give it your all and give your absolute best… and it still doesn’t happen; Sometimes things just fail. Now, given her connection to Aphrodite, this rings especially true for relationships. Its impossible to ignore how much Ariadne was mistreated by the men in her life: First her father who made her take care of the Minotaur and the dank labyrinth, then Theseus who is just a colossal dick, and Perseus who is a douche. Dionysus is good, but he can’t completely protect her in the end, but he makes up for it by ensuring her final happy ending (and for his mother, who definitely deserved better than she got!) but man did she have it rough. I don’t want to lump her in with Dejanira for the abuse asteroids but man, its hard to not draw the comparison. She definitely rings true for the themes of settling, “second place” and consolation prize, with others not being able to see the worth you have to offer (or in some cases, you can’t see it!). Truly she is a complex asteroid with a lot to say!

To find out where she shows up in your chart, go to astro.com, put in your birth details and in the extended options, at the top of the next page, there will be a menu of additional objects. To the right of that is a blank space where you can enter the number 43, for Ariadne. Once you have it entered, generate the chart! Where does Ariadne affect your life? Let us know in the comments below!

Tags: , ,

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.