Ariadne Vatican“Today she is known as the Vatican Sleeping Ariadne, long called Cleopatra.”

In the Vatican sits a beautiful Parian marble sculpture of a goddess who has a bracelet on the upper part of her left arm in the form of a serpent; called by the ancients, Ophis. The word ophis, is Greek for serpent. The name of the goddess is Ariadne who was originally worshipped on the holy island of Crete. She was the daughter of the famous law giver of Crete, King Minos; today she is known as the Vatican Sleeping Ariadne, long called Cleopatra.

Ariadne was seduced by the mythical founder-king of Athens, son of Aegeus and Poseidon, Theseus who was sent to Crete in order to destroy the Minotaur bull. When Theseus arrived in Crete, with the help of Aphrodite; Ariadne had fallen deeply in love with Theseus and offered to help him out of the labyrinth, if he had agreed to marry her and take her back with him to Athens. In return for his promise of marriage, she gave him a ball of thread to help him find his way out of the labyrinth.

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. Kerenyi notes a Linear B inscription from Knossos, “to all the gods, honey… to the mistress of the labyrinth honey” in equal amounts, suggesting to him that the Mistress of the Labyrinth was a Great Goddess in her own right. Professor Barry Powell has suggested she was Minoan Crete’s Snake Goddess.(Wikipedia)

The colossal statue of Ariadne located in the Vatican was made in approximately 100 AD, during the reign and empire of the Roman Emperor, Hadrian. She is shown sleeping on the rocks of Naxos, where she had been left by Theseus after she had assisted him in freeing himself from the labyrinth of Crete, in which he had been imprisoned. Eventually she married the god Dionysus or Bachhus.

The name Ariadne means “most holy”, composed of the Cretan Greek elements αρι (ari) “most”, and αδνος (adnos) “holy”.

In the image below of the original statue, Ariadne lies there asleep in the Vatican; below her there are various daemons and serpents (Ophites), who are  fallen or chained angels attempting to redeem themselves to a godlike status in order to reach heaven again. (1)

Ariadne Vatican 2


1. A general and bibliographical dictionary of the fine arts  By James Elmes

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