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was the title of the wife of the Archon Basileus
Basileus is a Greek term and title that has signified various types of monarchs in history. It is perhaps best known in English as a title used by the Byzantine Emperors, but also has a longer history of use for persons of authority and sovereigns in ancient Greece, as well as for the kings of...
of ancient Athens. During the festival of Anthesteria
Anthesteria, one of the four Athenian festivals in honour of Dionysus , was held annually for three days, the eleventh to thirteenth of the month of Anthesterion ; it was preceded by the Lenaia...
, the basilinna
was given as the ceremonial bride to Dionysus
Dionysus was the god of the grape harvest, winemaking and wine, of ritual madness and ecstasy in Greek mythology. His name in Linear B tablets shows he was worshipped from c. 1500—1100 BC by Mycenean Greeks: other traces of Dionysian-type cult have been found in ancient Minoan Crete...
. She was attended to by the fourteen gerarai
Gerarai were priestesses of Dionysus in ancient Greek ritual. They presided over sacrifices and participated in the festivals of Theoinia and Iobaccheia that took place during the month of Anthesteria, among other duties. Fourteen in all, they were either sworn in by the Athenian Basilinna or...
at this time. This is explained by what happened in the myth of Theseus
For other uses, see Theseus Theseus was the mythical founder-king of Athens, son of Aethra, and fathered by Aegeus and Poseidon, both of whom Aethra had slept with in one night. Theseus was a founder-hero, like Perseus, Cadmus, or Heracles, all of whom battled and overcame foes that were...
Ariadne , in Greek mythology, was the daughter of King Minos of Crete, and his queen Pasiphaë, daughter of Helios, the Sun-titan. She aided Theseus in overcoming the Minotaur and was the bride of the god Dionysus.-Minos and Theseus:...
, where Theseus (soon to be king of Athens) had eloped with the Cretan princess, Ariadne. But, no sooner had this occurred, that Dionysus claimed her as his own. Or, as it is claimed, Ariadne was already betrothed to Dionysus.