WELCOME TO MYTH MAN'S
AWARD-WINNING HOMEWORK HELP
Arachne was a young woman from Lydia, sometimes said to
be a princess, who arrogantly offended the goddess Athena, and suffered
the terrible consequences. The story of her scornful and overweening
pride was told throughout ancient Greece and it helped serve as a
warning to all mortals to respect the gods.
The mortal woman Arachne was truly gifted in the art of weaving. Not only were her finished products beautiful to look at, but the very act of her weaving was a sight to behold. The Nymphs of the forest were said to abandon their frolicking to come observe Arachne practice her magic and they would marvel at her talent.
So remarkable were her works that observers often would compliment Arachne and they would comment that she must have been trained by the very patron goddess of weaving, the great Athena herself. Arachne scoffed at this with great contempt. She was disgusted at being placed in an inferior place to the goddess and brashly proclaimed that Athena herself could not do better than her.
Athena heard this and was quite perturbed at Arachne’s bold claim, but she decided to give the young woman a chance to redeem herself. Assuming the form of an old woman, she came to Arachne in disguise and in a friendly way warned her to be careful not to offend the gods, lest she incur their wrath.
But Arachne told the old woman to save her breath and to be gone. Her art was far superior to Athena's, she said impetuously. She added that she welcomed a weaving contest with Athena, and, if she lost, would suffer whatever punishment the goddess deemed necessary.
That's when Athena dropped her disguise and revealed her true identity. The nymphs and other bystanders who had come to admire Arachne’s weaving shrunk back in fear and dropped to their knees in reverence to the Olympian goddess, but Arachne alone was unmoved and stood her shaky ground. She had made a boastful claim, and she was sticking to it, regardless of the consequences. That's how vain and arrogant Arachne was. It was obvious that she had to be taught a lesson, and Athena was just the goddess to do so.
With a foolish conceit, Arachne proceeded to the contest, matching Athena's weaving stroke for stroke. The contestants took their station and attached their webs to the beams, the mortal at her loom, the goddess at hers.
Athena wove on her web the great scene of her contest with Poseidon over the city of Athens. A beautiful panorama developed from the threads, showing Poseidon and the salt water spring, and Athena with an olive tree, gifts to the people who would name Athena as their patron, and their city after her.
The bystanders marveled at the goddess’ work, at the wondrous speed and dexterity with which she manipulated the slender shuttle, passing it in and out among the threads.
Athena made sure to insert in the four corners incidents illustrating the displeasure of gods at such presumptuous mortals as had dared to contend with them. She meant these as warnings to Arachne to give up the contest before it was too late.
Arachne, for her part, created a tapestry showcasing scenes of Zeus’ various infidelities: Leda with the Swan, Europa with the bull, Danaë and the golden rain shower. So exquisite was the mortal’s work that the bull seemed lifelike, swimming across the tapestry with a real girl on his shoulders, the frightened Europa pulling back her feet from the waves in terror. Even Athena herself was forced to admit that Arachne’s work was flawless. (Whether or not Arachne was actually better than Athena is still a mystery - we will never know...)
Angered at Arachne’s challenge, as well as the presumptuousness of her choice of subjects, Athena tore the tapestry to shreds and destroyed the loom. Then she touched Arachne’s forehead, making sure that she felt full guilt for her actions. Arachne finally realized her folly and was consumed with shame, but the guilt was far too deep for her poor, mortal mind. Depressed, she ran off and hanged herself.
Athena took pity on the hanging Arachne. She was not a mean-spirited goddess and most likely did not expect that Arachne would commit suicide. Still, she had to be taught a lesson, so she brought her back to life, but not as a human. By sprinkling her with the juices of aconite, Athena transformed the woman into a spider, her and her descendants destined to forever hang from threads and to endlessly spin their webs.
That's how spiders came to be.
Web, myth narration and graphics created and
maintained by Nick Pontikis