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the web of life in southern Africa

A Greek myth - how the arachnids got their name

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Arachne was the daughter of Idmon of Colophon in Lydia and was a dyer in purple. She acquired great skills in the art of weaving but showed poor judgement by challenging Athena, the goddess of, amongst other things, the female arts and industries. Arachne offended Athena by depicting the amorous pursuits of the gods and, Athena, outraged at the beauty and perfection of Arachne's work, tore it to pieces. In despair at the destruction of her work, hanged herself and Athena, out of remorse and pity, loosened the rope, which became a cobweb while Arachne herself changed into a spider.

Text by Norman Larsen