Arachne Picture

In Greco-Roman mythology, the mortal Arachne /əˈrækn/ was a great weaver who boasted that her skill was greater than that of Athena, goddess of wisdom, weaving, and strategy. When Arachne refuses to acknowledge that her skill comes, in part at least, from the goddess, Athena takes offense and sets up a contest between. Presenting herself as an old lady, she approaches the boasting girl and warns: "You can never compare to any of the gods. Plead for forgiveness and Athena might spare your soul". "Ha, I only speak the truth and if Athena thinks otherwise then let her come down and challenge me herself," Arachne replies. Athena removes her disguise and appears in shimmering glory, clad in sparkling white chitin. The two begin weaving straight away. Both are very skilled with a loom, but clearly Athena is better and swifter. Athena's weaving represents four separate contests between mortals and the gods in which the gods punish mortals for setting themselves as equals of the gods. Arachne's weaving depicts ways that the gods have misled and abused mortals, particularly Zeus' tricking and rape of many women. Athena sees that Arachne has insulted the gods and rips Arachne's work into shreds. Arachne hangs herself. Moved to mercy, Athena bids Arachne life, but sprinkles her with Hecate's potion, turning her into a spider and cursing her and her descendents to weave for all time.

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