The story of the famous weaver who was transformed into an insect.
Arachne, the gifted weaver.
Arachne in Greek mythology was a Lydian woman highly gifted in the art of weaving.
As Arachne was no ordinary weaver, very fast the news about her artistry spread far and wide and it is said that nymphs from the forests gathered around her to watch her weave. In their attempt to compliment her work they remarked that she surely must have been trained by none other than Goddess Athena, who was also the goddess of weaving.
The weaving contest
Arachne was annoyed at being regarded as a pupil of Athena and began proclaiming herself to be far more superior to even Athena. When the goddess heard of Arachne’s bold claims, she was upset, but she decided to give her a chance to rethink her behavior.
Transformed into an old woman, Athena appeared before Arachne and warned her of the consequences of provoking the wrath of the gods. Arachne was not a bit remorseful and she dared to challenge Athena to a contest, declaring that if she lost, she would accept any punishment. Athena, feeling ready to accept the challenge, revealed her true form.
The stage was set and the contest began.
Athena at her loom and Arachne at hers, they were working with splendid colors and threads of gold …
Athena created a tapestry replete with scenes from the history of the gods. At the corner of her tapestry, she depicted humans who had dared to provoke gods and who had been punished for it.
Arachne , on the other hand, created a tapestry full of scenes with the infidelities and amours of the gods. She portrayed vividly Zeus and the series of his infidelities with different goddesses and mortals. How he had turned into a swan to rape the Spartan queen Leda; a bull to entice Europa; an eagle to abduct Aegina; like a shower of gold to seduce Danae. And much more. According to a Latin narrative, Arachne featured twenty-one scenes of various misdemeanours of the gods.
The punishment of the arrogant Arachne.
In the end, Athena had to admit that although Arachne had shown no respect for the gods, her work was brilliant. However, that was not enough to calm down the goddess, who destroyed Arachne’s tapestry and loom. Arachne needed to take a lesson because she had been blinded by her arrogance and she didn’t care about provoking the fury of the gods.
However, even if it was too late, Arachne felt guilty for her behavior and she chose to get hanged. Athena on the other side, a bit calmer now, felt pity for the great weaver and turned her into a spider so she could continue to practice her art, even while hanging in the air.
Het Griekse Taal– & CultuurCentrum van Amsterdam