Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Myths and Legends: Arachne

Arachne. To find out more about Arachne, see this Wikipedia article: link; for information about the image: image source.

This painting of the Arachne legend is by Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640). Arachne is the mortal woman who boasted that her skill was greater than that of the goddess of wisdom and crafts, Athena (Roman Minerva). They staged a contest and Arachne chose as the subject for her tapestry the amorous affairs and misdeeds of the gods; if you look closely at Rubens' painting, you can see Europa and the bull on the right side of the painting:

Of course, there is no way the goddess would allow Arachne to win! The two of them wove their tapestries, and Athena then tore Arachne's tapestry to shreds and then beat her with the wooden shuttle. Arachne then prepared to hang herself in despair, whereupon Athena turned her into a spider, dangling not from a noose but from her own web. You can read the full story in Ovid's Metamorphoses, Book 6.

You can also find more myths and legends for the week of December 25-31 here. For more information and links to the actual javascript code, see the Myths & Legends Widget Reference Page.