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Primary Sources | Secondary Sources | Music | DVD

Primary Sources

Apollod. 1.9.4: Cephalus.
3.1.1-3.3.2: Legends of Crete.
3.10.7: Helen.
3.14.1-3.14.3: Cecrops.
3.14.5-3.16.2: Legends of the kings including Theseus.
E 1.1-E 1.19: Theseus continued.
E 1.21-E 1.24: Theseus and Pirithoüs.
E 1.23-E 1.24: Theseus and Pirithoüs carry off Helen and go down into Hades.
E 5.2: The death of Hippolyta.
Aristoph. Birds 658-676: Procne.
Aristot. Const.1 .Fr. 1-Fr.6: The kings of Athens.
Bacchyl. 17, Dithyramb 3: Youths, or Theseus.
18, Dithyramb 4: Theseus [for the Athenians].
Catull. 64
Dem. 60.27-60.28: Legends of the early kings.
Eur. Ion complete.
Her. complete.
Hipp. complete.
Med. 663-865: Aegeus scene to the end of choral ode to Athens.
Supp. complete.
Her. 1153-1428: The end of the play: Theseus befriends Heracles.
Heraclid. complete.
Hdt. 7.189.1-7.189.3: Boreas.
8.44.2: Names of the Athenians.
8.55.1: The Erechtheum.
9.73.1-9.73.3: Helen.
Hes. WD 505-570: Boreas.
Hom. Il. 2.546-556: Menestheus leads the Athenians at Troy.
Od. 11.321-325: Phaedra, Procris, and Ariadne.
Hyg. 37: Aethra, mother of Theseus.
38: The Labors of Theseus.
39: Daedalus.
40: Pasiphaë Conceives the Minotaur.
41: The Athenians and the Minotaur.
42: Theseus Kills the Minotaur.
43: Theseus and Ariadne.
44: Daedalus and Cocalus.
45: Philomela, Procne, and Tereus.
46: Erechtheus.
47: Phaedra and Hippolytus.
48: Kings of Athens.
59: Demophon and Phyllis.
136: Glaucus and Polyidus.
166: Erichthonius.
189: Procris.
198: Nisus’ Purple Lock.
Isoc. 10.14-10.69: Encomium of Helen with a lengthy digression on Theseus (10.22-10.37).
12.119-12.131: Encomium of early Athens and Theseus.
12.168-12.171: Theseus champions Adrastus and the Thebans.
12.193-12.195: Attacks against Athens by Eumolpus and Eurystheus.
Lyc. 1.98-101: Erechtheus.
Ov. Her. 2: Phyllis to Demophon, son of Theseus.
Her. 4: Phaedra to Hippolytus.
Her.10: Ariadne to Theseus.
Met. 7.404-452: Theseus Arrives in Athens.
Met. 7.453-489; 8.6-173: Theseus, Minos, and the Minotaur.
Met. 8.174-182: Ariadne and Bacchus.
Met. 8.183-262: Daedalus and Icarus.
Met. 15.497-546: Hippolytus.
Met. 2.711-832: Daughters of Cecrops.
Met. 6.424-674: Tereus, Procne, and Philomela.
Met. 7.670-862: Cephalus and Procris.
Paus. 1.2.1: Theseus and Antiope.
1.2.6: Amphictyon, Cecrops, and Erichthonius.
1.3.3: Theseus and the demos.
1.5.1-1.5.4: The Eponymoi, Tereus, Procne, and Philomela.
1.15.2: Theseus and the Amazons.
1.17.2-1.17.6: A sanctuary of Theseus containing paintings of his exploits, and the end of Theseus.
1.18.2: Pandrosus and Erichthonius.
1.19.1: Theseus visits Apollo’s shrine at Delphi.
1.19.3-1.19.5: Lycus and the Lyceum, Minos and Nisus, and the story of Oreithyia.
1.22.1-1.22.5: The tomb of Hippolytus, Theseus, Phaedra, and Hippolytus in Troezen, and how the Aegean got its name.
1.27.7-1.27.10: Troezenian legends about Theseus.
1.28.10: The Delphinium and the origin of the plea of justifiable homicide traced back to Theseus.
1.32.6: Heracles and his children seek refuge with Theseus.
1.37.6: Cephalus and Procris.
1.38.2-1.38.3: Crocon, Eumolpus, and Erechtheus.
1.38.5: Theseus and Procrustes.
1.39.2-1.39.6: Theseus and the battle for Thebes, Theseus and wrestling, and various customs and legends of Megara.
1.41.3-1.41.9: The Cithaeronian lion, Theseus and the Amazons, and Tereus and Procne.
1.44.6-1.44.8: The useful mussel stone; Ino throws herself into the sea.
2.1.3-2.1.4: Theseus and the sow Phaea, and Theseus and the brigand Sinis.
2.3.8: Medea plots against Theseus.
2.14.2: Dysaules establishes rites at Athens based on Eleusinian mysteries.
2.27.4: Hippolytus raised from the dead by Asclepius.
2.31.1: Read through 2.32.10: various sights in Troezen related to Theseus, Hippolytus, and Phaedra.
2.33.1: Poseidon and Aethra, the mother of Theseus.
2.34.7: Minos and the daughters of Nisus.
3.3.7: The bones of Theseus.
4.2.6: Lycus.
5.10.8: The battle between the Lapith and Centaurs at the marriage of Pirithoüs.
7.1.2-7.1.6: Xuthus in Athens; Ion and the Ionians.
7.1.9-7.2.1: Ionians welcomed in Athens, and later colonization.
7.4.5-7.4.7: Daedalus in Crete.
8.48.3: Theseus and the origin of the victor’s palm.
9.11.4-9.11.5: Daedalus, Icarus, and Heracles.
9.19.1: The Teumessian fox.
9.40.3-9.40.4: The works of Daedalus, and Ariadne.
10.4.8-10.4.9: Tereus, Philomela, and Procne.
10.25.7-10.25.9: Aethra, the mother of Theseus.
10.29.3-10.29.4: Ariadne and Phaedra.
10.29.6: Procris.
10.29.9-10.29.10: The friendship of Theseus and Pirithoüs.
Plat. Phaedo 58a-59b: Theseus and Delos.
Phaedrus 229b-230a: Boreas and Orothyia; cf. Strabo 7.3.1.
Plut. Thes. complete.
Thes. 30.1-31.4: Perithoüs.
Cim. 8. 5-8.6: Cimon brings Theseus’ bones to Athens from Scyros.
Soph. OC. complete.
Strab. 7.3.1: Boreas and Orithyia.
8.6.22: Crommyonian sow.
8.7.1: Ion and legends of Attica.
9.1.4: Sciron.
9.1.6: Pandion and his sons.
9.3.13: Tereus, Pandion, Proche, and Itys.
10.4.7-10.4.9: Cnossus and Minos.
14.1.19: Icarus and the Icarian sea.
Thuc. 2.15.1-2.15.3: Theseus.
2.29.2-2.29.3: Tereus, Pandion, Procne, and Itys; cf. Strabo 9.3.13.
Xen. Mem. 4.2.33: Daedalus.

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Primary Sources | Secondary Sources | Music | DVD

Secondary Sources


Ayrton, Michael. The Testament of Daedalus. London: Robin Clark, 1962. The painter and sculpture Ayrton meaningfully retells the the story of the death of Icarus through the narrator Daedalus.

Boccaccio, Giovanni (1313–1375). Teseida. Epic poem.

Calasso, Roberto. The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony. New York: Knopf, 1993.

Chaucer, Geoffrey (1340? –1400). The Canterbury Tales. Epic poem. The story of Theseus in “The Knight’s Tale.”

Dobyns, Stephen. “Theseus within the Labyrinth.” in Velocities: New and Selected Poems 1966–1992. New York:  Viking/Penquin, 1994. 204–6.

Renault, Mary (1905–1983). The King Must Die. New York: Pantheon, 1958. A biography of the young hero Theseus and his killing of the Minotaur, amidst a wonderful recreation of Minoan Crete.

Rukeyser, Muriel. “Waiting for Icarus,” in Nina Kossman, ed. Gods and Mortals: Modern Poems on Classical Myths. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001. 150.


Barr-Sharrar, Beryl. The Derveni Krater: Masterpiece of Classical Greek Metalwork. Princeton: American School of Classical Studies, 2008. A much wider discussion of Greek and Macedonian culture than its title suggests.

Campbell, Joseph. The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983.

Mills, Sophie. Theseus, Tragedy and the Athenian Empire. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.  An examination of how Theseus became the embodiment of the ideals of Periclean Athens.

Morris, Sarah. Daedalus and the Origins of Greek Art. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992. The myth of Daedalus analyzed to show artistic and literary influence upon Greece from the Near East.

Walker, Henry J. Theseus and Athens. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995. A study that explores the image of Theseus in the early period and then in the fifth century through major literary works.

Ward, Anne G., ed. The Quest for Theseus. New York: Praeger, 1970. A useful collection of essays on the saga of Theseus.

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Primary Sources | Secondary Sources | Music | DVD


Babbitt, Milton (1916–). Philomel, for soprano, recorded soprano, and synthesized sound. Beardslee. New World Records 80466-2. Text by John Hollander. Philomel flees through the woods, is transformed into a nightingale, and sings “Echo Song.”

Benda, Jirí Antonín (1722–1795). Adrianna auf Naxos. Melodrama (spoken text in German). Quadlbauer, Uray, et al. Prague Chamber Orchestra, cond. Christian Benda. Naxos 8.553345. Includes Pygmalion. Kammer et al. Wuppertal Symphony Orchestra, cond. Gülke. MDG (Gold) MDG 335 0740-2. Includes Eberwein, Proserpina.

Carter, Elliott (1908–). The Minotaur. Score for a ballet, choreographed by Balanchine, which tells the story of Pasiphaë and Theseus and Ariadne. New York Chamber Symphony of the 92nd Street Y, cond. Schwarz. Elektra Nonesuch 9 79248-2.

Dillon, James (1950–). Philomela. Opera. Komsi (Philomela), Naucki (Procne), and Peintre (Tereus). Remix Ensemble, Porto, cond. Hempel. AEON AECD 0986. The composer, who also wrote the libretto, defines his work as music/théâtre (combining both the English and French words) to define the originality of his musical and dramatic concepts for his original 21st century composition.

“Flight of Icarus.” Rock song. Iron Maiden. Piece of Mind. Capitol C21Y-46363.

Giger, Paul (1952–). Seven Scenes from Labyrinthos, for violin. ECM New Series 1487 437776-2. Giger. Scenes include “Crane,” “Creating the Labyrinth,” “Birth of the Bull,” and “Fourteen Virgins.”

Hallgrímsson, Haflidi (1941–). The Flight of Icarus (for solo flute). Bjarnason. “Implosions” AC Classics AC 8-99022-1. The three sections are “The Dream of Flying,” “The Making of Wings,” and “The Flight and Fall of Icarus.”

Handel, George Frideric (1685–1759). Teseo. Opera about Theseus, Medea, and Aegeus. James et al. Les Musiciens du Louvre, cond. Minkowski. Erato 2292-45806-2.

Harrison, Lou. (1917–2003). Ariadne. The score, for flute and percussion, is in two sections: Ariadne Abandoned and The Triumph of Ariadne and Dionysos. Miller et al. cond. Davies. Music Masters MMD 60241X. Includes Suite from the Ballet “Solstice,” Rudich and Grossman. Music for Flute and Percussion. CRI CD 568.

Haydn, Franz Joseph (1732–1809). Arianna a Naxos. Cantata for soprano and keyboard. Bartoli and Schiff. London 440297-2.

Hoffmann, E.T.A. (1776–1822). Aurora. Opera based on the legend of Cephalus and Procris. Soloists with the Jugendorchester Bamberg, cond. Dechant. Bayer Records BR 100-276-78.

“Icarus.” Rock song. Freddie Salem. Coral. Caroline CAROL 1730-2.

“Icarus.” New Age music that has become the theme of the Paul Winter Consort, whose concerns are nature and ecology. Cf. his Missa Gaia, Chapter 1. Paul Winter Consort. Living Music LD0004. Ralph Towner, the composer, has his own recorded version.

“Icarus Ascending.” Rock song. Steve Hackett. Caroline CAROL1861-2.

“Icarus—Borne on the Wings of Steel.” Rock song. Kansas. Masque Kirshner ZK 33806.

Jörns, Helge (1941–). Europa und der Stier. Opera. Woods et al. Berlin Kammeroper, cond. Jones. Col Legno AU-031 816. The legend of Europa and the bull, with all the major characters from Phoenicia and Crete.

Kokkonen, Joonas (1921–1996). Erekhtheion. BIS CD-498. Vihavainen et al. Lahti Symphony Orchestra, cond. Väanskaä.Cantata inspired by the Erechtheum on the Acropolis of Athens.

Lazarof, Henri (1932–). Icarus (Second Concerto for Orchestra). Inspired by Houston’s NASA program and parallels between the modern quest to conquer space and the classical legend. Seattle Symphony Orchestra, cond. Schwarz. Delos DE 3069.

Lamento d’Arianna. The Consort of Musicke, cond. Rooley. Editio Classica (Deutsche Harmonia Mundi) 77115-2. An album that includes versions of Ariadne’s lament by Claudio Monteverdi (1567–1643), Severo Bonini (1582–1663), Claudio Pari and Francesco Antonio Costa (16th, 17th cent.), Antonio Il Verso (1560? –1621), and Francesco Maria Rascarini (before 1645–1706).

Leach, Mary Jane (1949–). Ariadne’s Lament. New World Recordings 80525. Leach draws upon Monteverdi, and four of the compositions on this disc focus upon the myth of Ariadne: Ariadne’s Lament (for a cappella women’s chorus), Song of Sorrows (for mixed choir), O Magna Vasti Creta (for women’s chorus and string quartet), and Call of the Dance (for a cappella women’s chorus). She is at work on an evening-length expansion of her feminist revisioning of the myth.

Marcello, Benedetto (1686–1739). Arianna. Chierichetti et al. Academia degli Musici, cond. Bressan. Chandon CHAN 0656(3). A play in music for five voices.

Martinů, Bohuslav (1890–1959). Ariane. Based on the play Le Voyage de Thésée by Neveux, comprising the entire Theseus and Ariadne episode. Lindsley et al. Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, cond. Neumann. Supraphon 10 4395-2.

Menotti, Gian Carlo (1911–). Errand into the Maze. Music for the ballet. The Atlantic Sinfonietta, cond. Andrew Schenck. Koch 3-7051-2 H1. Includes Schuman’s Night Journey. See Video.

Milhaud, Darius (1892–1974). Trois Opéras-Minute: L’Enlèvement d’Europe, L’Abandon d’Ariane, La Délivrance de Thésée. Ensemble Ars Nova, cond. Siranossian. Arion ARN 68195; Capella Cracoviensis, cond. Rickenbacher. Koch 3-1139-2. The first of these very short operas is about Jupiter’s abduction of Europa; the second, Dionysus’ rescue of Ariadne, abandoned by Theseus; the third, Phaedra’s pursuit of Hippolytus, who is enamored of Aricia.

Orff, Carl (1895–1982). Klage der Ariadne and Tanz der Spröde.

Tovey, Donald Francis (1895–1940). The Bride of Dionysus. Excerpts from the Opera. Silver, Johnston et al. Ulster Orchestra, cond. Vass Dutton Laboratories DUT 7241. Tovey is well-known as a writer on music.

Wagemann et al. Münchner Rundfunkorchester, cond. Eichhorn. ARTS 43004-2. Orff made three settings of Monteverdi’s works under the titles of Lamenti: Orfeo, Lamento dell’Arianna, and Ballo dell’Ingrate (Ballet of the Ungrateful Women). The text for the latter is set in Hades, where Venus and Amor show the fate of women who reject the power of love.

Rameau, Jean-Philippe (1683–1764). Les Boréades. Opera. Smith et al. English Baroque Solists, cond. Gardiner. Erato 22922-45572-2. Alphisa, Queen of Bactria, is in love with Abaris, son of Apollo and descendant of Boreas, who plays a significant role.

———. Aquilon et Orithie. Poulenard et al. Le Chant du Monde CLB 0278 774. Cantata on the theme of the abduction of Orithyia.

Roussel, Albert (1869–1937). Bacchus et Ariana. Ballet suite from music for a ballet about Theseus, Ariadne, and Bacchus. Orchestre National de France, cond. Prêtre. EMI CDC 7 47376 2.

Schuman, William (1910–1992). Night Journey. Ballet about Jocasta. The Atlantic Sinfonietta, cond. Schenck. Koch 3-7051-2 H1 (Includes Menotti’s Errand into the Maze.) See Video.

Strauss, Richard (1864–1949). Ariadne auf Naxos. Operatic masterpiece that depicts the abandoned Ariadne redeemed by Bacchus. Rysanek, Peerce, et al. Wiener Philharmoniker, cond. Leinsdorf. Decca 443675-2; Schwarzkopf et al. Philharmonia Orchestra, cond. Karajan. EMI CMS 7-69296 2 (Angel CDMB 69296). See DVDs.

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Primary Sources | Secondary Sources | Music | DVD


Ariadne auf Naxos. Opera by Richard Strauss. Jessye Norman, Kathleen Battle, Tatiana Troyanos, James King, et al. A Metropolitan Production, cond. James Levine. Deutsch Grammophon.

———. Susan Anthony, Iride Martinez, Sophie Koch, Jon Villars, et al. Dresden Opera, cond. Sir Colin Davis. Kultur.

———. Hildegard Hillebrecht, Reri Grist, Sena Jurinac, Jess Thomas, et al. Salzburg Opera Production, directed by Günther Rennert. Wiener Philharmoniker, cond. Karl Böhm. TDK. A classic performance.

———. Claire Watson, Beverly Sills, Robert Nagy, et al. Boston Symphony Orchestra, cond. Leinsdorf. VAI. Concert performance of the 1912 version, with no Prologue and Composer and a more difficult aria for Zerbinetta.

Idomeneo. Opera by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Yvonne Kenny, Jerry Hadley, Carol Vanes, et al. London Philharmonic Orchestra, cond. Bernard Haitink. Directed and produced for video by Christopher Swann and Trevor Nunn. Kultur.

Jim Henson’s The Storyteller, Complete Collection. John Hurt stars as the storyteller of the tales recreated by live actors and characters created by Henson: Daedalus and Icarus, Orpheus and Eurydice, Perseus and the Gorgon, and Theseus and the Minotaur. Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

Labyrinth: The History of the Maze. Documentary. New River Media. Maze designer Adrian Fisher traces the history, myth, and meaning of this archetype.

Minoan Civilization. Documentary. Historical and archaeological survey that may be brought to bear upon the legend of Theseus and the Minotaur. Films for the Humanities.

Minotaur. Opera by Harrison Birtwistle. Tomlison, Reuter, Rice et al. The Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, cond. Pappano. Opus Arte. This most recent opera by the renowned British composer has won critical acclaim and is musically and dramatically more accessible than his Orpheus.

Teseo. Opera by George Frideric Handel. Jacek Laszczkowski, Maria Riccarda Wesseling, et al. Lautten Compagney Berlin, cond. Wolfgang Katschner. Stage director, Axel Köhler.

VHS video tape not yet on DVD
Errand into the Maze. Ballet, Martha Graham, choreographer. Graham describes the work: “There is an errand into the maze of the heart’s darkness in order to do battle with the Creature of Fear. There is the accomplishment of the errand, the instant of triumph, and the emergence from the dark.” Martha Graham: Three Contemporary Classics (includes also Cave of the Heart). Martha Graham Dance Company, principal dancers: Takako Asakawa and Terese Capucilli. VAI Video Arts International 69030. Dance Horizons Video.

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