Monday, March 25, 2013

Ariadne and The Minotaur Nail Art

A little while ago Shades of Phoenix announced they were having a nail art challenge on Instagram. I don't usually take part in nail art challenges because the competition is CRAZY, but since this one had the theme of Greek mythology, I couldn't possibly resist.

Mythology is my jam
I decided to attempt to portray the story of Theseus and the Minotaur - particularly the part where Ariadne saves Theseus from certain death, and gets little to no credit for it. If you haven't heard the story before, here's a quick and dirty version.

You see, it all started when Athens got into a war with Crete. Just what this war was about is a matter of some discussion, but the outcome was that Athens definitely lost. As penance for losing, Athens agreed to help Crete out with a little Minotaur problem they had. It seems the king of Crete's wife had previously fallen in love with a bull (looong story) and produced a hideous half man, half bull monster child called a Minotaur, that they had to confine in an elaborate labyrinth because it's favourite food was people. Athens agreed to send seven beautiful boys and seven beautiful women once a year as a Minotaur meal, to prevent it getting too hungry and getting out of the labyrinth to snack on the Cretan populace.
Strangely enough, the Athenian people weren't super keen on this arrangement. On the third year, the son of the King of Athens, one Theseus, offered to go as one of the Minotaur snacks and kill the monster instead, thus solving the problem for everyone. His father wasn't particularly happy with this idea, and tried to talk him out of it, but Theseus was the one of the biggest jocks of the ancient world and insisted he could do it. He promised his Dad that if he was successful, he would make sure the ship he came back on had white sails, and if he failed they would put up a black sail, so he would know the outcome without even having to wait for the ship to dock. The King reluctantly agreed, and off Theseus went to be a Big Damn Hero.

Because he was just so amazingly awesome, pretty much as soon as he set foot in Crete the King of Crete's two daughters Ariadne and Phaedre both fell madly in love with him. Theseus was all set to go charging into the labyrinth and bag him a Minotaur skin, but Ariadne convinced him to take a ball of twine with him, and let it trail behind him as he went in so he could find his way out again. He took her excellent advice, killed the beastie, and followed the twine back out again. The King of Crete wasn't exactly as thrilled with this turn of events as Theseus had hoped he might have been, so he took Ariadne and Phaedre with him and hopped on his boat back to Athens as quick as he could. Being the charming piece of work he was, he actually stopped halfway and dumped Ariadne on an island, continuing on home with the younger sister Phaedre. He was apparently pretty wrapped up in the excitement of his new ladyfriend, because he forgot to put up the white sails on his ship to indicate he was still alive. When the King of Athens saw Theseus's ship coming in with black sails, he jumped off a cliff in despair at the apparent loss of his bestest son.

The moral of the story? Don't help the jocks with their homework. They will never thank you for it, and will probably dump you on an island and sail off with your sister the cheerleader.

And now, my interpretation of Ariadne's brilliant idea, on my nails! This is an attempt to portray the labyrinth, with a trail of red twine running through it, and the ball left outside the door.

For the black background I used Shades of Phoenix in Hades, because it's a delicious dark jelly with little flecks of glitter that I thought would look more interesting than just solid black. The walls of the labyrinth were done with A England Avalon, and the twine is OPI I'm Not Really A Waitress.

Unfortunately, this manicure didn't even make it to the top six of the competition (I told you the competition was CRAZY), but I'm still really happy with it. And hey, any excuse to talk about mythology!


  1. I LOVE your entry, yours and one other were the only one's who really spoke to me personally on the real mythology level - which not many people can. Your even teaching me, I must say I love readying your version of events them my won research which can be, how can I say... boring! Lol

    1. Awww, thank you! One of the things that put me off studying mythology at Uni is how DRY a lot of people make it. It's like, these were stories, meant to ENTERTAIN. Pulling them apart to analyse them critically is all well and good, but I hate it when people forget they're also good, fun stories.


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