Main characters

Antoine-Jean Gros, Bacchus and Ariadne, 1822 (fragment)
(Ariadne and Dionysus)
Oil paint on canvas, 90.8 x 105.7 cm.
Collection National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, (no. 18810)

Ariadne of Europe

Ariadne is the daughter of Minos, illegitimate son of the Supreme God Zeus, and Pasiphaë, daughter of the Sun God Helios. Yet Ariadne is not a Goddess, because her father is only a mortal.

Minos of Europe

Minos is the firstborn son of the Phoenician princess Europe. The supreme God Zeus laid his lusty eye on the beautiful young princess and abducted her from North Africa to Crete, where he married her. However, he was already married to Hera. Europe bore three sons to Zeus: Minos, Rhadamanthys and Sarpedon.


Europe is a daughter of King Agenor of Phoenicia and his wife, Queen Telephassa. The royal couple have four children, Kadmos, Kilix, Phoenix and Europe.
King Agenor was himself a son of the Goddess Libya and the sea God Poseidon. Telephassa is a daughter of the oceanids Nilos and Nephele.


Pasiphaë is a Goddess, her father is Helios, the Sun God and her mother is Perseis, the oceanid nymph. She married Minos, son of Zeus. Their children are Glaukos, Katreus, Deukalion, Ariadne, Akalle, Phaedra, Xenodice and Minotaur. Pasiphaë is a sorceress.


Asterion, who was a widower and already had a daughter, whose name was Crete, married Europe at the request of Zeus. When Europe gave birth to her first son of Zeus, Asterion called him his own and gave him the name Minos.
With the help of Zeus, Asterion became King of the land he named after his daughter, Crete, and Zeus gave him five times the normal lifespan of a human.


Zeus is the Supreme God who resides on Mount Olympus. Zeus is a strict but just judge. He is married to his sister Hera, but his marital fidelity leaves much to be desired: Zeus has many affairs with various mortal women, including the very young Phoenician princess Europe, whom he kidnaps and abducts to Crete.


Poseidon is an older brother of Zeus. He is the God of the Sea and waters, and is also referred to as the "earth shaker." Poseidon is a vindictive and vengeful God. He is married to Amphititre, a daughter of the Titans Oceanus and Tethys.


Dionysus is the God of Wine. He is a son of the chief God Zeus and Semele, a daughter of Kadmos, who himself was a brother of Europe. Because Kadmos descended from Poseidon through her father Agenor, Dionysus was descended from Zeus as well as from his brother Poseidon. Dionysus met Ariane in the caves of Mount Dikte in Crete, and immediately thought her a funny girl and a wise woman. From then on Dionysus wanted Ariadne as his wife.