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Arachne and Athena: How the First Spider Was Created

    Arachne and Athena and How the First Spider Was Created

    Hubris in Greek Mythology

    Greece’s myths are filled with recurring themes of hubris. Arrogance, often known as hubris, is a serious sin. Greek deities were modeled after people. Whereas we currently perceive the divine as being without flaws, the Greeks thought that divinities shared all of humanity’s flaws, including the ability to love, get angry, and make mistakes. 

    They were also ferociously jealous creatures. The jealousy of the gods and goddesses frequently resulted in wars like the Trojan War. The gods were envious of humans, especially those who thought they were superior to or on par with the gods. This was referred to as hubris. not simply a lot of conceit. As long as one did not compare themselves to the gods, the gods did not care about hubris. 

    That transgression was unpardonable. For instance, Zeus killed Salmoneus and Hades condemned him to endless suffering in Tartarus because Salmoneus insisted that his followers worship him in the same manner that they worshipped Zeus. Another person who was punished for his conceit was Narcissus, who was doomed to spend the rest of his life staring at his face in a still pool. He was highly conceited and extremely proud of his appearance in his situation. One of the best illustrations of the Greek gods’ punishing hubris and their pettiness and jealousy is the tale of Arachne and Athena.

    She told the people gathered around, “I am not afraid of the goddess; let her test her abilities, if she so dare venture.

    About Athena, Thomas Bulfinch-Arachne

    The Challenge

    The goddess of defensive warfare, tactic, and knowledge was Athena. She was also the goddess of embroidery, spinning, weaving, and other womanly crafts. Zeus had eaten her pregnant mother Metis, and she emerged fully grown from his head as the god Zeus’ daughter. She didn’t enjoy competition, especially from members of the mortal race, like the other Greek gods did. She heard Arachne bragging about her weaving skills in the comments, which she did not find amusing.

    Idmon of Colophon, who was either a skilled wool dyer or a shepherd, was the father of Arachne. She was a Lydian who started weaving when she was very young. By the time she was an adult, the local nymphs were envious of her weaving because it was so exquisite. To observe her at work, they would assemble around her workshop. 

    In addition to the end product, Arachne’s straightforward command of her craft was also stunning. Seeing Arachne at work was awe-inspiring, from the carding of the wool to weaving the shuttle along the loom. 

    Sadly, Arachne was arrogant because she was aware of how well she had weaved. One fatal day, a nymph who was praising Arachne’s weaving said that the goddess Athena had actually taught Arachne how to spin and weave. As soon as she heard the offer, Arachne was outraged and boasted, “Let Athena trial her ability against mine; if defeated, I will pay the punishment.”

    Arachne had bad luck that day since the goddess was close enough to hear. The goddess adopted the look of an old crone, wrinkled and hunchbacked, but she wasn’t yet angry. She went over to Arachne and gave her some suggestions. 

    “I hope you won’t disregard my advice. Whatever you do, don’t compete with the goddess; instead, challenge your fellow mortals. Arachne mocked the crone’s suggestion and ordered her to keep her counsel. 

    “On the contrary, I encourage you to ask her forgiveness for what you have said, and as she is merciful perhaps she may forgive you. She told the people gathered around, “I am not afraid of the goddess; let her test her abilities, if she so dare venture.

    Athena had to respond to such a clear challenge. What gall had this human to question an Olympian and how dare she speak so highly of a goddess’ abilities? Athena stood in front of the gathering wearing her full magnificence after removing her disguise as an elderly woman. Everyone, with the exception of Arachne, quickly bowed low or knelt. Athena only told the weaver that “She came.” No additional discussion was required. The challenge was put forth and taken up. The looms were set up for the competition quite fast.

    The Contest

    The goddess and the woman, both experts in their fields, worked quickly, hurriedly moving the shuttle through the strands. The weaving of Athena began initially. In the competition for Athens, she woven pictures of Poseidon and herself. The job was quite meticulous. 

    The salt water was rushing out of the earth’s depths, almost as if Poseidon had just struck it. The olive tree of Athena appeared to be expanding outside the weave. Athena woven dreadful depictions of the mortals who had dared to oppose the gods in the center, including Salmoneus’ endless suffering in Hades and Icarus’ fall to the ground. The onlookers backed away from her tapestry.

    The subject of the Arachne tapestry was no less important. She woven the gods’ horrible errors and faults. Zeus’ deeds were depicted in great detail on her tapestry. When Leda stroked the swan that Zeus had hidden himself in, the feathers appeared to flutter in an imagined breeze. Zeus was propelling them to Crete as Europa was clutching to the bull. 

    The bull showed no fear as the waves threw her around. The thread storybook also included other tales, such as Phaethon’s tragic flight in his father Apollo’s chariot and Midas cradling his golden daughter. When Athena saw the fabric that Arachne was creating, she furiously stopped working. Athena took her shuttle and tore apart Arachne’s tapestry after being deeply offended by the woman’s blatant impiety and haughtiness. 

    She then pressed her hand against Arachne’s head, making her feel guilty and ashamed. Arachne left her studio and the competition in disgust.

    The Punishment

    Athena will discover Arachne’s body later that day, hanged by a rope from a tree. Athena paused and focused intently on the lady. Her heart began to feel a little bit sympathetic. She had carefully crafted her tapestry. Athena hit the woman’s skull again almost impulsively. “Live! “Guilty woman!” she yelled. 

    Arachne’s form shrank and transformed into that of a spider as she said, “And that you shall maintain the memory of this lesson, continue to hang, both you had your descendants, through all future times.” Was the transformation of the woman into a spider punishment or atonement? drawn from the rest that awaits the dead to hang and weave forever? To continuously weave 

    while being aware that your progeny will be cursed forever in addition to you? In actuality, it depends on the viewpoint. Is it preferable to seek out death’s serenity or to have to continue using your talent forever with no chance of rest?


    Greek mythology contains a number of stories about arrogance and its punishment, including the tale of Arachne and Athena. The illustration and reinforcement of societal and cultural standards is a crucial function of mythology. obedience and humility, especially for women. In ancient Greek civilization, women didn’t have many rights. 

    Unmarried girls in Ancient Greece had no more rights than married women, according to Elizabeth Wayland Barber in Women’s Work: The First 50,000 Years: “No married woman governed the Classical Greek family or made its important decisions.” Greek law and social custom were very restrictive in regards to women. Generally speaking, they were not allowed to own property, cast ballots, hold public office, or even attend public gatherings. 

    All women were expected to marry, and their unions were arranged by their father or a close male guardian. The common perception of women who were haughty, independent, or held authority over males is illustrated by this myth as well as others, including the myths of Medusa, Medea, and Niobe. Women were discouraged from following in their footsteps and even made fun of. Having said that, this myth’s main lesson is a significant one. Be careful while challenging others, regardless of your level of ability. Humility, even a little bit, goes a long way.

    It’s vital to keep in mind that in certain renditions of the narrative, Arachne or Athena is proclaimed the competition’s victor. This version is based on the Bulfinch’s Mythology tale, in which there is no genuine winner because Athena destroys Arachne’s tapestry before it is finished. In other versions, Athena had little to do with Arachne’s metamorphosis into a spider; rather, Arachne’s own embarrassment caused the change.