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  ARACHNE THE SPINNER
(Greek myth retold and translated by the Portuguese author Dulce Rodrigues)

Arachne was a very talented young spinner and weaver who lived long ago in a place called Lydia, now part of Turkey. Her father was also a weaver, but no spinner or weaver was more gifted than Arachne.

According to legend, Arachne’works were so remarkablly eautiful that her reputation reached the far corners of the world and even the nymphs would come and look at the splendid cloths in wonder. People often commented that she must have been trained by Athena, the goddess of war and crafts, also known for her hability to weave beautifully. But Arachne was scornful of this, and challenged the goddess Athena to a contest.

read the legend ARACHNE THE SPINNER

When Athena heard about Arachne’s claim she was very angry, but decided to give the young woman a chance to redeem herself. She disguised herself as an old peasant woman and went to visit Arachne, warning her to be careful and not to compare her talent to that of the gods. Burt Arachne proudly said that with all her talent she could not feel inferior to the gods. At this, Athena was furious and revealed her true form. It was then decided the two momen would compete by each creating a tapestry.

read the legend ARACHNE THE SPINNER

Athena wove a stunning cloth showing her fight and victory against Poseidon. Arachne, however, had woven a cloth that made fun of the gods and godesses by showing their inumerous love affairs.

Arachne’s work was so exquisite and flawless that Athena was forced to admit that Arachne was the winner. But the disrespectful choice of subject made the goddess lose her temper, and she then stroke Arachne’s forehead, making sure that she felt guilt for her actions.

read the legend ARACHNE THE SPINNER

Arachne was ashamed and terrified, and in turmoil she took a weaving thread and hanged herself. Athena had not expected Arachne to take her own life and took pity on her. She brought her back to life, not in human form but as a spider, the ancester of all spiders that weave their webs all over the earth today.

read the legend ARACHNE THE SPINNERÉ

And since then, Arachne was to hang from a thread and to be a great weaver for the rest of her life...

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    All Texts and Illustrations © Dulce Rodrigues, 2009. All rights reserved