Bulfinch's Mythology The Age of Fable

Page: 73

And so the metamorphosis is caused by Arachne's own mortification and vexation, and not by any direct act of the goddess.

The following specimen of old-fashioned gallantry is by Garrick:


  "Arachne once, as poets tell,
  A goddess at her art defied,
  And soon the daring mortal fell
  The hapless victim of her pride.

  "Oh, then, beware Arachne's fate;
  Be prudent, Chloe, and submit,
  For you'll most surely meet her hate,
  Who rival both her art and wit."

Tennyson, in his Palace of Art, describing the works of art with which the palace was adorned, thus alludes to Europa:

  "—— sweet Europa's mantle blew unclasped
  From off her shoulder, backward borne,
  From one hand drooped a crocus, one hand grasped
  The mild bull's golden horn."

In his Princess there is this allusion to Danae:

  "Now lies the earth all Danae to the stars,
  And all thy heart lies open unto me."


The fate of Arachne was noised abroad through all the country, and served as a warning to all presumptuous mortals not to compare themselves with the divinities. But one, and she a matron too, failed to learn the lesson of humility. It was Niobe, the queen of Thebes. She had indeed much to be proud of; but it was not her husband's fame, nor her own beauty, nor their great descent, nor the power of their kingdom that elated her. It was her children; and truly the happiest of mothers would Niobe have been, if only she had not claimed to be so. It was on occasion of the annual celebration in honor of Latona and her offspring, Apollo and Diana, when the people of Thebes were assembled, their brows crowned with laurel, bearing frankincense to the altars and paying their vows, that Niobe appeared among the crowd. Her attire was splendid with gold and gems, and her face as beautiful as the face of an angry woman can be. She stood and surveyed the people with haughty looks. "What folly," said she, "is this! to prefer beings whom you never saw to those who stand before your eyes! Why should Latona be honored with worship rather than I? My father was Tantalus, who was received as a guest at the table of the gods; my mother was a goddess. My husband built and rules this city, Thebes; and Phrygia is my paternal inheritance. Wherever I turn my eyes I survey the elements of my power; nor is my form and presence unworthy of a goddess. To all this let me add, I have seven sons and seven daughters, and look for sons-in-law and daughters-in- law of pretensions worthy of my alliance. Have I not cause for pride? Will you prefer to me this Latona, the Titan's daughter, with her two children? I have seven times as many. Fortunate indeed am I, and fortunate I shall remain! Will any one deny this? My abundance is my security. I feel myself too strong for Fortune to subdue. She may take from me much; I shall still have much left. Were I to lose some of my children, I should hardly be left as poor as Latona with her two only. Away with you from these solemnities, put off the laurel from your brows, have done with this worship!" The people obeyed, and left the sacred services uncompleted.