Facts About Arachne in Greek Mythology

Written by rose kerr
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Facts About Arachne in Greek Mythology
The word "arachnophobia," or the fear of spiders, is derived from the Greek word "arachne." (Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

Arachne is a Greek mythological character who is remembered as being a proud and arrogant young woman before she became a spider. Her story is connected with Athena, the goddess of wisdom. The moral of Arachne's story is that arrogance, vanity and pride bring about a person's downfall. As is the case with many other characters in Greek mythology, Arachne's story makes her unforgettable.

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Early Life

Arachne was born a shepherd's daughter and was introduced to the art of spinning by her father, Idmon, who was famous for weaving rolls of wool into a distinct shade of purple. People came from far off places to see the colourful wools that he dyed. She too took interest in her father's work and began weaving at an early age.

Challenge to Athena

Arachne was so good at spinning that even the heavens were amazed. The adulation made her overconfident, and it reached a point where she challenged Athena to a spinning duel. Athena, initially willing to give the girl a chance to revoke her challenge, disguised herself as an old woman and went to meet Arachne. As Athena attempted to impart sense into the girl, Arachne snapped at her and said she did not need an old woman's advice. At this moment Athena changed into her real self and reprimanded Arachne for being so insolent. She then accepted Arachne's challenge.

Display of Insolence

While Athena spun a beautiful scene depicting the gods in heaven, Arachne spun a web showing the shortcomings of the gods. Though disrespectful, her work was beautiful and drew admiration from everywhere. Athena, though floored by the beauty of Arachne's work, was furious when she saw the audacity of the girl and tore her work into pieces. Arachne finally understood her mistake, and the guilt was too much for her to bear. She took her own life by hanging herself.

Consequences of the Suicide

Athena was shocked by what had happened. She had not expected things to stretch this far. As a result, she gave Arachne her life back, not as a human, but as a spider. Since Arachne liked spinning and weaving so much, she was destined to be a spider and hang from her web while she spun. This is how, according to Greek Mythology, Arachne became the first spider on earth.

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