Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Arachne: Spider Woman


The mythical story of the contest between the goddess Athena (Roman Minerva) and the mortal woman Arachne can be found in Roman poet Ovid’s “Metamorphoses” (Book VI). Here's a run down of the story: Arachne lived in Lydia and was a brilliant weaver. So adept was she that she became arrogant and claimed that her ability rivaled that of the goddess Athena. Athena, as the patron deity of weavers with the epithet, Ergane, (Athena Ergane meaning ‘Athena of work’) couldn’t let Arachne’s hubris pass by unchallenged – the Greek gods do get rather jealous. So, in the guise an old peasant woman she gently warned Arachne not to compare her talents to those of an immortal. Arachne poo-poohed this suggestion so Athena then showed her real self and both she and Arachne had a weaving competition, each creating a tapestry. Athena wove her tapestry with images that foretold the fate of humans who compared themselves with deities, while Arachne's weaving told of the loves of the gods. Such was Arachne's skill that her work equalled that of the goddess, and Athena, overwhelmed by anger, struck Arachne. Terrified, Arachne hung herself, Athena then transformed her into a spider.

3 comments:

Lisa said...

I LOVE this particlar myth and think Spiral Dance did a lot in bringing it to the attention of others.
I have been doing a lot of research on Athena lately and have just completed my Soul Collage of her. ( I am doing a set of soul collage cards based on the differing aspects of the Goddess, using modern women) Athena is my first.
Love your weblog.......so interesting

El said...

Hi Caroline

I'm researching the arachne myth, and am very interested in the image that you've displayed. Could you let me know where it's from?

Many thanks. El

Anonymous said...

Arachne really intrigues me.

I heard of her while searching for spider symbolism. [I've been having extremely vivid dreams and visions of spiders lately.]

I've been trying to find other spiritual beings or deities associated with spiders, but there don't seem to be many.

--Emmie