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Daughter of King Minos of Crete, Ariadne loved first Theseus, whom she rescued from the labyrinth, then Bacchus, after Theseus had left her on the island of Naxos.

According to Philostratos ('Imagines' 1: 15), Ariadne was asleep when Bacchus encountered her, but in Ovid's 'Ars Amatoria' she had just wakened and was mourning the loss of Theseus, as in Titian's 'Bacchus and Ariadne', where Theseus' ship is seen sailing over the horizon. Bacchus turned Ariadne's crown into a constellation before sweeping her away in his triumphal chariot to be his bride. The satyrs and dismembered animals in Titian's painting are taken from Catullus' 'Carmina', in which the bedspread of a royal marriage bed embroidered with the scene is described.