Ariadne by the Sea de Chirico
Giorgio de Chirico, “Ariadne by the Sea” (1913)



See this figure on Dia’s sea-seething shore?

(That’s the island of Naxos, mind you.)

The one watching Theseus’s ship sail swiftly away?

It’s Ariadne, of course, her heart swollen with indomitable passion.

She literally can’t believe her eyes.

She was sleeping unwarily (and postcoitally),

Then woke to discover she’d been abandoned on the lonely shore.

Poor girl.

As for him, he’s in full flight, calling out stroke! stroke! stroke!

Those promises of his? Good for nothing! Scattered to the winds!

He’s far off now, but she’s still there, wrecked amid the wrack,

Her “pretty little Minoan eyes” gazing sorrowfully out to sea.

She looks like a marble statue of a frenzied Bacchante,

Great waves of emotion surging within her.

Just look at her. Everything’s out of place:

Light scarf missed, her blonde hair’s mussed.

To cover her chest, there’s not even a flimsy dress.

Her breasts, unbound from soft band, spill white as milk.

She’d stripped herself bare and dropped things here and there.

They lie at her feet, rising and falling in the saltwater.

At that moment, though, it wasn’t the fate of her scarf or flowing dress

She had on her mind. It was you, Theseus. With her whole heart,

With her whole soul, with her whole mind, she thought about you — lovelornly.

Pitiful girl.


Catullus 64.52-71 (Abbot, trans.)

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