In Greek Mythology, Arachne was a Lydian woman, the daughter of a famous Tyrian purple wool dyer, who was highly gifted in the art of weaving.
Soon news of Arachne’s artistry spread far and wide and it is said that nymphs from the forests left their frolicking and gathered around Arachne to watch her weave.
All this adulation was more than Arachne could handle and being an ordinary mortal who was quite vulnerable to human failings, she became quite arrogant about her superior skills. She was annoyed at being regarded as a pupil of Athena, the Goddess of Wisdom, and began bragging about her skills, proclaiming herself to be far more superior to even Athena.
Athena took offense and set up a contest between them. Presenting herself as an old woman.
When they finally met, Athena cast aside her disguise and revealed her true identity to the prideful maiden. “Now we shall see who is the better craftsman, for I challenge you to a contest of skill. The winner shall be honored, while the loser concurs to weave no more”, the goddess declared and took her place before the loom.
Athena gracefully entwined the colorful threads into a prophetic scene depicting mortals being duly punished for their defamatory actions against the gods.
For her offering, Arachne chose to create a tapestry detailing some of the more scandalous moments in the lives of the Olympians. Arachne’s work of art, according to the Latin narrative, featured twenty-one scenes of the various misdemeanors of the mighty gods, including Zeus, Poseidon, Apollo, Dionysus and others.
Although Arachne had shown little respect for the gods by choosing a subject that made a mockery of the supreme deities of the Olympus, even Athena had to admit that her work was brilliant and flawless.
Athena was infuriated by the mortal’s pride. In a final moment of anger, she destroyed Arachne’s tapestry.
Unable to cope with her feelings, Arachne decided to hang herself.
Athena stepped in and saved her from that death; but, angry still, pronounced another doom: “Although I grant you life, most wicked one, your fate shall be to dangle on a cord, and your posterity forever shall take your example, that your punishment may last forever!”.
Even as she spoke, before withdrawing from her victim’s sight, she sprinkled her with extract of herbs of Hecate.
Ovid tells us in his book “Metamorphoses, that at once all hair fell off, her nose and ears remained not, and her head shrunk rapidly in size, as well as all her body, leaving her diminutive. Her slender fingers gathered to her sides as long thin legs; and all her other parts were fast absorbed in her abdomen, whence she vented a fine thread; and ever since, Arachne, as a spider, weaves her web. After her transformation, Arachne hid from Athena by weaving the rope on which she hanged herself into an intricate web.
⇒Background and Interpretation of the Myth:
There are many version of this myth. It may have originated in Lydian mythology; but the myth, briefly mentioned by Virgil in 29 BC, is known from the later Greek mythos after Ovid wrote the poem “Metamorphoses”, between the years AD 2 and 8.
This was retold in Dante Alighieri´s depiction as the half-spider Arachne in the 2nd book of his “Divine Comedy”, Purgatorio.
In Ovid’s version, it is clear that Arachne’s problem was one of pride or hubris, an exaggerated belief in one’s own abilities.
Yet, in other versions the theme is more one of Athena’s envy of a mortal whose skills are at least comparable with her own.
Last, but not least, this myth can be interpreted in the light of economic rivalry between the city of Athens and the region of Lydia. Historical and archaeological evidence suggests that, in the second millennium BCE, Lydia was the largest exporter of dyed woolen cloth in the Mediterranean. In this reading of the story, Athena is Athens, while Arachne symbolizes her native Lydia.
⇒Different Cultural and Philosophical Depictions of Spiders:
In many cultures spiders stand as the creators of our universe and world, and also serve as agents of destruction.The spider has symbolized patience and persistence due to its hunting technique of setting webs and waiting for its prey to become ensnared. It is also a symbol of mischief and malice for its toxic venom and the slow death it causes, which is often seen as a curse.
For example, in ancient India, it is written that a large spider wove the web that is our universe. She sits at the centre of the web, controlling things via the strings. It is said she will one day devour the web/universe, and spin another in its place.
Egyptian mythology tells of the goddess Neith – a spinner and weaver of destiny – and associates her with the spider.She is often depicted with a weaving shuttle in her hand, or a bow and arrows, demonstrating her hunting abilities.
Neith shared same attributes than Athena. She was worshiped as a virgin. She was considered the guardian of marriage and women, and was believed to have created the world and humanity on her loom. The symbol depicted often above her head is argued to either be a weaver’s shuttle or crossed arrows. Before being connected to this means of creation, she was believed to have worked with the primordial waters as the source.
Egyptian goddess Neith reminds of the Greek Moirae.
The Moirae were the three white-robed personifications of Destiny: Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos. These three Goddesses work successively. Clotho spun the thread of life from her distaff onto her spindle. Lachesis measured the thread of life allotted to each person with her measuring rod. And Atropos was the cutter of the thread of life.
In Celtic tradition, the spider has strong associations with the Druids. This nature-based religion sees the spider as having three distinct characteristics – the Bard, the Ovate and the Druid. The bard is the artist and weaver of webs. The Ovate is a seer that provides perspective, and the Druid is the teacher of Spider medicine. We are told that Spider created the Ogham, an early Irish alphabet that is often seen on sacred stones in Ireland.
Spider Woman appears in the mythology of several Native North American tribes, including the Navajo, Keresan, and Hopi. In most cases, she is associated with the emergence of life on earth. She helps humans by teaching them survival skills.
Spider Woman also teaches the Navajos the art of weaving.
Before weavers sit down at the loom, they often rub their hands in spider webs to absorb the wisdom and skill of Spider Woman.
Similar to other traditions in the Americas, the Mayan Ixchel was the weaving goddess whose whirling drop spindle controlled the movement of the universe.
In some imagery she is shown holding a spindle and distaff, and in some she is kneeling with a small back strap loom tied to a tree, like other weaver-goddesses, weaving the destiny of the world.
Furthermore, an ancient Aztec mural painting of The Great Goddess of Teotihuacan was discovered in the 1940s in Tepantitla, at the site of the pyramids of the Sun and Moon in Mexico.
Until the 1980s, the painting was thought to be of Tlaloc, the Aztec god of rain and water. The details of the painting suggested a feminine form and there were enough similarities to the North American Spider Woman that it was decided that she was another version of the myth.
In the Vedic philosophy of India, the spider is depicted as hiding the ultimate reality with the veils of illusion. The Vedic god Indra is referred to as Śakra in Buddhism, or with the title Devānām Indra. Indra’s net is used as a metaphor for the Buddhist concept of interpenetration, which holds that all phenomena are intimately connected.
In a different and yet resembling level, Information technology terms such as the “web spider” and the World Wide Web imply the spider-like connection of information accessed on the Internet.
This is a special section in which I will display all the awards I have received during 2016. To simplify, I will follow the same rules for all the awards as otherwise I wouldn´t be able to do it … 😉 Meaning: 1. Thank the blogger who have nominated you. 2. Display the logo on your blog. 3. Nominate at least 7 bloggers for each award and tell them about the nomination. As I often do, I will nominate bloggers who nominated me for other awards, new followers and bloggers who have recently liked my posts. As to my nominees, I will link back to one of their newest posts as an easier way to inform them about the nomination. If you have been nominated and want to follow along the nomination process, you´ll find your respective award in the gallery below, as the slideshare goes, click on it and save it (see award, per number). If you are a Free Award Blog, all is fine: just take this mention as a shout-out. 😀
3♦Thanks so much Pintowski for the Sunshine Blogger Award.
4♦Thank you very much Claudia Moss for the One Lovely Blog Award.
6♦Thank you very much Inese from Making Memories for the Creative Blogger Award.
7♦Thanks so much Juggling Writing a Book for the Liebster Award.
7´♦ (same logo that ♦4) Thank you very much Tina Frisco for the One Lovely Blog Award.
9♦Thank you very much Lazy Haze for the Mystery Blogger Award.
10♦Thanks so much Danicapiche for the Treasure Trove Award.
11♦ Quote Challenge: Thanks so much to Inese from Making Memories and Heena Rathore for inviting me to join her in the Three Quotes Challenge. The rules of this challenge are: a. Thank the person who nominated you. b. Post one fresh quotation on three consecutive days. c. On each of the three days, nominate at least one folk to continue the challenge.
Hope you don’t mind that I wrote only one blog post instead of three. Feel free to do the same if you were nominated. I will add the six Quotes (three per each nomination) below photographs I have recently taken in Brazil and Argentina. Click on the photographs to read the respective quote…