time came for the
contest in weaving, all the world was there to see it, and great
sat among the clouds and looked on.
set up her loom
in the shade of a mulberry tree, where butterflies were flitting and
chirping all through the livelong day. But Athena had set up her loom
the sky, where the breezes were blowing and the summer sun was shining;
for she was the queen of the air.
Arachne took her skeins
of finest silk and began to weave. And she wove a web of marvelous
so thin and light that it would float in the air, and yet so strong
it could hold a lion in its meshes; and the threads of warp and woof
of many colors, so beautifully arranged and mingled one with another
all who saw were filled with delight.
that the maiden
boasted of her skill," said the people.
began to weave.
And she took of the sunbeams that gilded the mountain top, and of the
fleece of the summer clouds, and of the blue ether of the summer sky,
of the bright green of the summer fields, and of the royal purple of
autumn woods,-and what do you suppose she wove?
which she wove in
the sky was full of enchanting pictures of flowers and gardens, and of
castles and towers, and of mountain heights, and of men and beasts, and
of giants and dwarfs, and of the mighty beings who dwell in the clouds
with Jupiter. And those who looked upon it were so filled with wonder
delight, that they forgot all about the beautiful web which Arachne had
woven. And Arachne herself was ashamed and afraid when she saw it; and
she hid her face in her hands and wept.
can I live," she
cried, "now that I must never again use loom or spindle or distaff?"
kept on, weeping
and weeping and weeping, and saying, "How can I live?"
Athena saw that
the poor maiden would never have any joy unless she were allowed to
and weave, she took pity on her and said:
free you from your
bargain if I could, but that is a thing which no one can do. You must
to your agreement never to touch loom or spindle again. And yet, since
you will never be happy unless you can spin and weave, I will give you
a new form so that you can carry on your work with neither spindle nor
with the tip of the spear which she sometimes carried; and the maiden
changed at once into a nimble spider, which ran into a shady place in
grass and began merrily to spin and weave a beautiful web.
heard it said that
all the spiders which have been in the world since then are the
of Arachne; but I doubt whether this be true. Yet, for aught I know,
still lives and spins and weaves; and the very next spider that you see
may be she herself.