Scholars continue to imagine that bull-leaping games in ancient Crete must have been about power over and domination of a very dangerous animal. Watch this video of a woman with her bull friend and weep for their ignorance.
"What seems to me even more significant are the ideas behind bull-leaping: the conception of the bull as an adversary, the need to prove superior human skill, the opposition between man and nature. . . If . . . the idea is that the bull is an adversary to be hunted or outwitted, as I have suggested, then it pertains to a domain which belongs exclusively to the male sphere." Nanno Marinatos, Minonan Religion
"As in Egyptian and Near Eastern bull cults, Minoan bull-leaping gave expression to the tension that underlies man's somewhat tenuous mastery of nature, reaffirmed each time human triumphs over animal. Not coincidentally such cults flourish in societies as they become increasingly stratified, as the affirmation of human prowess serves by analogy as an affirmation of social order." Jeremy McInerney, "Bulls and Bull-leaping in the Minoan World"
Sometimes we think of Greek myth as a pre-patriarchal or less patriarchal alternative to the stories of the Bible. After all, Goddesses appear in Greek myths while they are nearly absent from the Bible. Right?
So far so good, but when we look more closely we can see that Greek myth enshrines patriarchal ideology just as surely as the Bible does. We are so dazzled by the stories told by the Greeks that we designate them “the origin” of culture. We also have been taught that Greek myths contain “eternal archetypes” of the psyche. I hope the brief “deconstruction” of the myth of Ariadne which follows will begin to “deconstruct” these views as well.
Ariadne is a pre-Greek word. The “ne” ending is not found in Greek. As the name is attributed to a princess in Greek myth, we might speculate that Ariadne could have been one of the names of the Goddess in ancient Crete. But in Greek myth Ariadne is cast in a drama in which she is a decidedly unattractive heroine.