The spider's story/Αραχνη

My dear friend Janet's amazing photos of baby spiders 
gave me the reason for this post ;]
What a powerful archetype spiders are!
The ancient Greeks had (of course) a story to tell of how this industrious little insect was created. 
Arachne, the story goes, was once a beautiful young woman, daughter of a famous cloth dyer.
She lived in Lydia-part of Asia Minor-and she was the best weaver in the world.

Women in ancient times used the vertical-standing loom.
Some say,she had been taught the art of weaving from the Goddess Athena herself. Athena-Minerva for the Romans-was the one who taught humans all crafts and arts and was the protector of all craftsmen. She was especially protecting weavers as "Athena Ergani"
Arachne was renowned for her superb multicolored clothes, but-as in many Greek myths-she became arrogant. She started to boast that she was a better weaver than Athena herself!! 
That's "hubris", and in the ancient world of Gods and Heroes, it was a deadly mistake to make!!
Hmmm....it still is to be honest!

Vertical looms are now rare replaced in later centuries by the better known horizontal ones.
This is one of the last vertical ones in a museum in northern Greece.
The enraged Goddess gave Arachne one more chance.
She appeared to her as an old woman and advised her to stop insulting the Gods. Arachne just laughed and Athena took once more her divine form.
Some variations of the myth claim foolish Arachne challenged Athena to a weaving contest,others say the Goddess challenged the girl.
So,the Goddess and the young girl stood in front of their looms and started to weave.
Athena wove the olive tree story and the stories of men and women who had dared to become too arrogant.
Arachne wove Zeus's love affairs with various mortal women. 
At the corners of her cloth,she depicted the inhabitants of Olympus with their defects (like, Hephaestus's lame leg)...adding to the insult...foolish girl.
And of course,you can't possibly beat a God/Goddess.
 Even though-some say-Arachne's cloth was superbly made without a single flaw, Athena tore it apart and hit the girl in the face with her golden spindle.
Shamed, Arachne, tried to hang herself but she was not allowed to die.
Athena transformed her into a little ugly insect,which until our days is hanging from high spots and constantly weaving it's web.

Penelope weaving her famous cloth to postpone choosing a new husband. The horizontal loom is an anachronism of course :]
Looking Arachne up ,I learned that the Hopi Indians' mythology tells about a Mother Spider who wove all creation into being. In India's mythology the spider is weaving Maia, the web of illusion humans take for reality.
Spiders are strongly connected with the Love-Death polarity, the fatal attraction of women and intrigue. 
On the practical level, spiders are such useful little buggers. They keep ants,flies and mosquitoes in order :]

I never hurt a spider...but to be honest I shudder when I see photos of ze big ugly hairy poisonous ones...eeeeeek!
*runs away in terror*

1 comment:

  1. *bounces up and down* I loved this post!!!

    I love how you integrate mythology into so many of your posts. It's just so cool. I enjoyed reading the story and looking at the images. It seems to me that there are a lot of people who need to be turned into spiders with their arrogant attitudes! Still...spiders are so extremely cool...it's not the worst thing in the world. I like finding out how various cultures put spiders into their myths.

    Like you, I rarely hurt spiders because I know they are beneficial. We have, however, killed the THREE Black Widow spiders we found in our garage and house. YIKES!!!