Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Catullus 64

We have finished 64....the question remains; who "won"? Both Ariadne and Thesues risked quite a bit for their respective aims. Whose goal was attained at a greater risk?


Caroline David said...

It is very easy to agree with the common perception of the story- Theseus was a git, whose father perished directly due to his actions, and Ariadne, the victim of Theseus's foolishness, was deserted on an island with no apparent chance for survival. In reality, Theseus was granted with a life only missing a father while Ariadne was to perish alone. But to me, Ariadne has "won", attaining a goal, although not her initial goal, at a greater risk. Her final words in the poem were cursing Theseus, "let he pollute with death himself and his own" (funestet seque suosque) which did indeed occur as Theseus forgot to change his sails, a miscommunication with his father that led to unnecessary, fatal cliff diving. All Ariadne had to do to achieve this goal was to plead to the gods.
On the contrary, Theseus's goal was a bit obscure to me. It seemed as though he was so eager to get home he became very careless. He did indeed make it back, but forgot a seemingly nice lady on an island and was the catalyst to his father's death.

Ariadne: 1
Theseus: 0

Gientsy said...

I liked how Ms. David kept score. I agree with what she said that Ariadne "won" although they both took a risk- Ariadne leaving her father to go with Theseus and Theseus, his life for those undeserved youths that were to be sacrificed to the Minotaur and leaving his home with his father's disapproval.
Ariadne chose the promises Theseus gave over her family and then was left unmarried, crushed and everything sad. While Theseus lost a father waiting for him to come back home safely, but it was his neglectful mind that caused his father's death.
Ariadne even though she was left alone, she had the option of going back to her father, during the sequence of questions she asked, one was should she seek help from her father. She even prayed to the Gods for vengeance.
In a way Ariadne attained her alternate goal making Theseus feel her pain by praying to the Gods and all Theseus ended up with was that he came home safely, to a dead father and unmarried.

Emilia said...

Though Ariadne may have cast the final stone, Theseus dealt more successful blows overall. Theseus had a clear goal: Kill the Minotaur. When he arrived at Crete he added a "side mission" to use video game terminology, which was: Get the girl. Turns out the missions were beneficially entangled- he killed the Minotaur because he got the girl. Once he got what he wanted from Ariadne, safe escape from the Minotaur and possibly more (one night stand on a boat), he left her carelessly on a shore. Theseus got what he wanted, there is no denying it. He risked his own life only. Ariadne had no clear goals, she helped Theseus for impulsive passion and suffered for the indiscipline. She risked far more, allowing her "brother" to be murdered, turning traitor against her own family, and trusting her life in Theseus' hands. She did not get what she wanted, a lifetime with Theseus, but only a night or two. At that point she develops a clearer goal of avenging her and her family's humiliation. Her goal is attained at no risk (she need only ask the gods) when Theseus' father incognizant throws himself from a cliff. Sure, she gets what she wants, but she only wants this because Theseus has "won" and she is a sore loser. So what if his father commits suicide? Score one for Athens, Crete: Zero.

Whit said...

Hm, it's hard to decide who ended the game with a better score. As stated by Caroline, Gientsy, and Emilia, there was in essence a dominating score for one of the two. Looking back at the poem it is hard to determine who prevailed, but in this instance Ariadne seems to be ending the game with a more dominating score. Although at the beginning it seems that Ariadne will have a semi fairytale ending, she is inevitably dropped, for her usefulness as a pawn has failed. Thus leaving her on a deserted island, alone with a grieving and more miserable heart than she originally possessed. Even though it seems that Theseus has fate on his side, Ariadne seems to have the skills of persuasion on her side, which help her in her attempt to get revenge on Theseus. The gods help her in her endeavors, which would me a point essentially for Ariadne. Unfortunately the prayers made to the gods doesn't help her situation much as far as being stranded, but in the end so has a more hopeful result. That being that unlike having a dead father like her lost love, she has a new potential love at her door step. " at parte ex alia florens volitabat Iacchus cum thiaso Satyrorum et Nysigenis Silenis,te quaerens, Ariadna, tuoque incensus amore." She already has a new prospect of love in her future, which seems like a potential success, seeing as how fast her heart fluttered at the sight of Theseus. This ultimately leaves her with a sense of victory or at least hope, for another is seeking her love, rather than her seeking another, and potentially see can get off the island. A win/ win in her case.

Bryn said...

I like Emilia's reasoning on Theseus' victory. While Ariadne risked her whole life to save only her life and to get away from her crazy father, Theseus risked his life to save the lives of many other innocent men whose lives would have ended if the Minotaur's had not. He also got the girl (at least for a few nights) that he never planned on having, and even though his father committed suicide- it was Theseus' own fault for forgetting to change the sail, so he sort of had it coming. Theseus, in my opinion, had the most consequence to his actions, and had the best reward in the end.

Chrysanthe said...

Ariadne's aim was to help (and marry) Theseus. She did help him, but she got abandoned on an island for her troubles. Theseus wanted to destroy the Minotaur and, its likely, catch up with his long lost father. His father kills himself.
In godly terms, Theseus loses. He kills the Minotaur, so some would assume Neptune, who sent the Minotaur as punishment, might be a bit ticked. Also, he has Ariadne's curse hanging over his shoulder, so he is not on the gods' good side, as can be seen by him forgetting to raise the white sail and, thus, his father commiting suicide. Meanwhile Ariadne has practically commited second-hand fratricide in helping Theseus kill the Minotaur (she seems to count him as some twisted form of a brother... after he's dead). Killing or helping kill one's relatives never bodes well in Greco-Roman mythology. However, this does not stop Baucchus from falling in love with her. So, while she did not get the guy, namely Theseus, she did get the god. And she got her revenge on said guy...
In that sense, Ariadne wins
On the other hand, considering what each person was risking if they failed,and the culture of the time, Theseus comes on top. If he died, the youths of Athens would all have been devoured, steadily sending generations of Athenians to a sickening end. Acting like a true leader, Theseus sacrificed himself for the good of the people and, while he lost his father, he saved Athens. Also, one must consider that this is a very patriarchal society. If Theseus had lost and Aegeus' only known heir to the throne was killed, Athens could have been thrown into turmoil. There was much more pressure for Theseus to suceed in killing the Minotaur than in Ariadne getting the man she loved. In that patriarchal time, it would also have been considered shocking for Ariadne to help a man whome her father had not betrothed her to out of love. Marriage in Ancient/Classical Greece (because this does take place in Greece)did not have anything to do with love. It was, frankly, for the sole purpose of producing legitimate heirs (and/or for political reasons). A typical Greco-Roman audience may have balked at the thought of Ariadne defying her father for some enemy-prince (because Greece REALLY was not unified at this time). All things considered though, while Ariadne may have insulted her father (this is a man who thought nothing of having young Athenians devoured...alive) and helped kill her carniverous half-man-half-bull-of-a-brother, the threat of failure is only really on her head, not on her people's. So while Theseus is a git for dumping the girl who saved his life (and then, some stories say, marrying her little sister ?!?!) he definetly risked more to achieve his goal. Oh, and Ariadne technically didn't achieve the part of her goal which included marrying Theseus.

Emily said...

By helping Theseus kill the minotaur and then escape Crete, Ariadne is turning her back on her family. She abandoned them in the name of love, hoping to marry the handsome Theseus once they had escaped together. Theseus's goal was to kill the minotaur, thereby freeing his father of the burden of sending 12 of Athens' youth to their deaths. It's also feasible that he wanted to show the world that his future kindom was powerful, and could not be controlled by anyone.
Both had things to loose in their attempts to accomplish their goals. Thesues could loose his life trying to slay the minotaur. Ariadne would loose everything she knew: her home, her friends, her family, and the support of her father, by trying to be with Theseus. Looking at the ways of her father, Ariadne may have even been risking severe punishment if not death for betraying her father if she was ever found and returned to him.
For this reason, I believe Ariadne had more to loose. A princess was nothing without her family. Ariadne's future once she turned her back on her father was very unclear. So many things could happen to her. But Theseus only had 2 outcomes once he entered the labyrinth: he would live or her would die. Theseus was a hero before he even killed the minotaur. He had demonstrated great strenth and an ability to kill, so he knew his abilities before he had even decided to go to Crete(now I'm using my mythology packet). He went into the labyrinth knowing he could kill the minotaur. A risk is not as hard to take when you feel fairly certain of the outcome from the start. Ariadne could only hope for everything to work out with Theseus. Therefore she took the greater risk because her future was more uncertain than Theseus.
And for anyone reading this, take self-knowledge/mythology with Zaunius senior year. One of my favourite classes I've ever taken.

Adam said...

First of all, both Ariadne and Theseus both had something to lose, but the real question remains is who suffered more.
Theseus's job was to defeat the minotaur. He sacrificed his life so that others would not have to. Before he went up to battle the minotaur, he was feeling very confident that he could defeat the animal. Once he would kill it, this would show everyone that his new kingdom would be extremely strong and would not nearly impossible to take over because he killed the minotaur.
So, if Theseus beat the minotaur, he would not only have a very dominating reign but he would also be with Ariadne. Yes, this was very heroic indeed, sacrificing your own life to save others, but before anyone jumps to conclusions, lets take a look at Ariadne.
Ariadne's goal was that she would help Theseus kill the minotaur and then they would live happily ever after. If she did this, she would leave everything that she knew behind. In addition, if her father found out that she had run away with Theseus, she would probably be put in a very big time-out. All joking aside, she would face very extreme punishments if not death for running away with Theseus.
Who suffered the greater loss?

Chris said...

In my opinion, Theseus won (although they both succeeded). One of his major goals was to defeat the minotaur, which he did. And I applaud him, well done. You could also say that one of his goals was to get home, which he did, I applaud him again.
Howeverm there is Ariadne's win to consider. You know, she may have been left on an island all alone, probably to die (which sucks because she helped Theseus so much), BUT her goal on that island was basically to get revenge and she did, just not really directly on Theseus. She cursed Theseus, causing him his father's death. So in a way Ariadne won. And Theseus lost a little.
Plus there's the fact that Theseus got Ariadne (then dumped her, which really makes him a doosh) and he saved people from being killed by the minotaur. So there's some more points for Theseus.
And well, considering some of the dooshes of the world, and I'm not defending Theseus, but at least he left her alive. It wouldn't have been surprising if he had left her dead body somewhere instead.
So, part of me kinda feels Ariadne should suck it up and move on, I mean at least she still has her life.

Filipp said...

In asking us who won, I assume that you mean that someone else lost. Let us see.
Theseus wanted to kill the Minotaur, and succeeded. He did not take much risk in slaying him. He knew that he could beat him, so the risk was not as great. Besides Ariadne's help in guiding him through the labyrinth, he could have still killed the Minotaur. He had nothing to fear but fear itself. He can be considered a winner because he spared the lives of those who would have been killed by him. One of Theseus' goals is to make his way home, and he does. He also gets to spend some time with Ariadne, even though he dumps her.

Ariadne risked everything she had to help Theseus. She helped him kill her brother, knowing well that her father would be furious and would possibly kill her. Theseus used her and then dumped her. I believe that he can be called a "tool," because he uses her when he needs her and disposes of her when it becomes inconvenient to take care of a princess.

Theseus wins in slaying the Minotaur, and Ariadne gets the shorter end of the stick and gets left on the island.

At the very end, the tables turn, and Ariadne pleads for the gods to punish Theseus, which causes his father to die. He loses, and Ariadne wins.

I dont think that there is an overall winner. Theseus had selfish desires to prove his strength, and lost the chance of having a girl like Ariadne. Ariadne selflessly helped Theseus, and was left to rot in the process.

In the end, Theseus wins because he is not stuck on a deserted island, and has killed the minotaur. His dad is dead, but he is alive and well. Ariadne on the other hand....well, let us hope she can find some food.