Arachne – The Weaver Who Turned Into a Spider
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Most of us know about the major gods and goddesses in Greek mythology but there are other characters that are part of some of the stories. In fact, there are some well known mortals who also have stories associated with them. Arachne, a talented weaver, is one of those mortals who had dealings with the Greek deities. There are actually several versions of her story and in each of these versions, there is a slightly different ending. Here’s an overview of each of the versions:
Although Ovid was a Roman poet, he still covered many of the Greek myths in his Metamorphoses work. In his version, Arachne was the daughter of a shepherd who started weaving when she was a little girl. Her talent grew and even though she was a better weaver than the goddess Athena, she wouldn’t acknowledge that her talent came, at least in part, from the goddess herself. Offended, Athena set up a contest where the two would compete to see ho was best. Athena’s work focused on contests between gods and mortals where the gods won. Arachne’s work focused on stories where the gods and goddesses seduced mortals. Athena saw that not only was Arachne’s work better than hers, but Arachne’s was also insulting. As punishment, Athena turned Arachne and all her descendants into spiders, cursed to weave their webs for eternity.
There is another version of the story that tells a similar tale but has a different outcome. It isn’t clear who first come up with this version and it is possible that the story was handed down through the generations. In this version of the story, Athena actually won the contest before turning Arachne into a spider. Another difference in this version is that Athena actually taught Arachne how to weave but Arachne would never admit it. This further fueled the rage that caused Athena to eventually turn her into a spider.
There is another version of the story where Arachne actually wins the contest over Athena. In this version, Arachne was a highly successful weaver in Ancient Greece. People would ask her if the goddess Athena taught her to weave. Although this was a compliment, Arachne became mad and eventually challenged Athena to a weaving contest. In this contest, Arachne’s skills did prove to be far superior to Athena’s but it was short lived. The goddess wanted to make Arachne learn that her gifts were a blessing from the gods so she touched her forehead with a special magic. The magic only worked a little bit, and Arachne was filled with guilt. Instead of feel thankful for her gifts, she had severe feelings of guilt that stemmed from not being thankful and she ended up hanging herself.
Like many of the Ancient Greek myths, the story of Arachne is a tragic one. Each of the versions shows the consequences of what could happen if you are arrogant and are unwilling to acknowledge that your talents are really gifts.
Wikipedia – Arachne
Categorized in: Greek Mythology
This post was written by GreekBoston.com