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The Weaving Contest


Arachne and Athena are the protagonists.  There are several versions of this story as you might expect with Greek Mythology.  Here is the version I like the best.  

Arachne is a shepherd girl who is famously celebrated as a supreme weaver.  Her cloth displays wonderful pictures and is loved by all who see it.  She is also an amazing spinner.  She boasts that she could easily win any weaving contest, even with Athena, the goddess of wisdom.  Her hubris proves to be a dangerous thing.

Athena, the goddess of wisdom, is the daughter of Zeus.  She is a warrior often shown in battle gear.  Because she is so clever, Athena is considered the goddess of crafts such as weaving and pottery.

Athena is not pleased when she hears of Arachne's boast.  She comes to Arachne in the guise of an old women and suggests to Arachne that she take back her boasts or Athena might make her pay for them.  Arachne just laughs and says "If Athena is angry with me, let her come herself and challenge me to a weaving contest."  Athena immediately sheds her old woman form and challenges Arachne.

The two women set about weaving.  Their looms are in the same room and they weave from first light in the morning till all light is gone at night.  When they are finished their weaving is compared.  Athena's weaving shows all the gods and goddesses up on Mount Olympus showering blessings on people.  Arachne's weaving shows the gods and goddesses drunk and making a mess of everything.  

Athena is furious.  She is outraged by this upstart who dares to challenge the gods but she also understands that Arachne is a better weaver.  Even though she is outraged by the content of Arachne's weaving she is impressed by her talent.  Athena touches Arachne's forehead and turns her into a small spider.  "You will pay for your hubris by never using a spindle or loom again but now you will spin and weave forever."

I bring up this story because I'm thinking of my next tattoo.  I already have a distaff full of flax just above my ankle.  I love my tattoo.  It took me about 50 years to go from wanting one to actually getting it.  But it's a very slippery slope.  Now that I have the first one it's time for the second one.  I think a spider web would be perfect.  I don't want a spider on the web.  Somehow that sounds too creepy for me.  I had thought of having my spider web on my neck but my daughter suggested I pick a location that isn't always going to be uncovered.  Not sure where that might be.