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Part 1: The tale of Arachne

Perhaps you’ve asked yourself once or twice, “Why do spiders exist?” They’re creepy; they’re crawly; and tons of people are afraid of them. Let’s not go into the practical uses that spiders have (because it’s never been enough and it will never be enough for the people who are afraid) and let’s focus on where arachnid originated. The Greeks seem to have an answer for everything so let’s hear their story.

Long ago there was a mortal woman named Arachne. She had been poor and low so Athena took pity on her and taught her the art of weaving. Arachne excelled quickly until she was a master weaver and nymphs from far around would come and watch her work. They asked her who had taught her to weave so beautifully but Arachne had become so full of conceit and vanity that she said no one had taught her.

When Athena heard of Arachne’s boast, she was displeased but gave her a chance to repent her words. Visiting her in the guise of a crone, Athena warned Arachne to take heed and give credit where credit was due as even the wisest knew to do. But Arachne only scoffed at the old woman and went further by challenging Athena to a contest of weaving skill.

Angered by her continued disrespect, Athena threw off her disguise and stood in full glory before the unrepentant mortal. All the nymphs cowered in fear and respect before the goddess of wisdom, all except Arachne who stood erect with her head held high.

The contest ran like this - they would each weave pictures and the one that was best was the winner. Arachne had indeed become high and mighty and full of ingratitude for the gift that Athena had given her.

To be continued…


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