Arachne—daughter of the Lydian dyer Idmon of Colophon—was so proud of her skill as a weaver that she challenged Athena herself, the goddess of crafts, to a weaving contest. When Arachne’s tapestry surpassed Athena’s, the goddess flew into a rage and attacked her. Arachne then hanged herself. But Athena took pity on the dead girl and turned her into a spider so that she could continue her weaving.
The only complete retelling of the myth of Arachne comes from Ovid’s Metamorphoses; the origins of the myth are unknown. This story has remained extremely popular over the centuries, inspiring numerous artistic, literary, and cinematic adaptations.