Thread of Life

  • In an ancient Greek myth, Ariadne gives Theseus a ball of thread to help him find his way out of the labyrinth inhabited by Minotaur, a formidable monster.
  • The length of that thread apparently determined the fate of the hero, since it had to be more than the sum of the labyrinth's pathways.
  • There is also a myth about the Parcae sisters, one of whom is unwinding a ball and the other cutting the thread. As with the thread of Ariadne, the length cut is measuring out the time of one's life.
  • This concept of the "thread of life" is associated with modern scientific knowledge about chromosome threads, recording, as it were, the fate of an individual.

The character in the painting reminds us of the romantic hero in Miguel de Cervantes' famous novel. Don Quixote spends his life in perpetual pursuit of the ideals of knighthood and feats of chivalry in the name of "beautiful ladies" who are long dead and gone. His needle-spear trails a thread that turns into a river winding far off into the horizon. This thread trailing behind the horseman is his fate and his life.