I still haven’t been able to bring myself to research the weird and heebie-jeebie-inducing facts I found about spiders, but I have recovered sufficiently to dive into arachnid mythology (which of course, is completely, 100% true).
Once upon a time (as all the best stories begin), there was a girl (again, excellent story beginning) named Arachne. She was a normal human except for 2 things: her extraordinary weaving ability and her lack of humility.
Do you know who the goddess of weaving is/was? Athena. Do remember what else Athena is known for? Wisdom, strategy, and war. In other words, smart and deadly. Not exactly the ideal person to anger.
Arachne, who had not watched enough reality TV to know what happens when you go up against the gods, boasted that her skill at weaving was better than anyone’s–including Athena. (OK, add “dumb” to the things Arachne is known for.)
Athena, unsurprisingly, was not amused. Not in the least.
She disguised herself as an old woman (HINT: never challenge old women–it ends badly every single time) and goes to Have A Word with Arachne. Arachne, not having read the above hint, says Athena would lose a weaving contest between the two of them. This does not sit well with Athena, who does more than raise an eyebrow–she accepts the challenge. (Why she didn’t smite her then and there, I don’t know. I can only assume it’s because that would be a bad ending to the story. Or maybe she was over her smite quota.)
They begin to weave. CNBC covers the event live which is almost (but not quite) as boring as watching golf.
Athena weaves a story about gods punishing the mortals for thinking they’re as good as the gods. Arachne weaves a story about gods misleading and abusing mortals (which happened more than you might think but was not one of the better themes to have chosen).
Athena, who does not have an overabundance of patience or a rollicking sense of humor, rips Arachne’s work to little bitty (or possibly itsy bitsy) pieces. Arachne, not one for apologizing, hangs herself. Athena brings her back to life but turns her into a spider and says she (and all her spider-y descendants) have to weave forever. It’s not obvious to me this is an improvement for Arachne.
And that, O Best Beloved, is why spiders are called arachnids.
Wishing you a cobweb-free day.