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date: 08 December 2022


, 'Spider'


, 'Spider'
  • Alan H. Griffiths


Daughter of a Lydian dyer who challenged *Athena to a weaving contest. No doubt her story was originally a cautionary tale like those of *Thamyris and *Marsyas (1), warning against the inevitable failure and dire consequences of such presumption; but in the only extant literary version (Ov. Met. 6. 5–145) the emphasis is all on the insolent brilliance of the tapestry she weaves. Her catalogue of the sexual outrages of the gods, clearly designed to provoke the virgin goddess, outclasses Athena's routine effort and drives her to destroy Arachne's work and attack her. Only after the girl has hanged herself in distress does Athena transform her into a spider, fated to re-enact her compulsive web-making for ever after. It is possible that a Corinthian aryballos of c.600 bce may already show the competition scene; otherwise no other ancient representations are known.


  • Greek Myth and Religion

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