Lydian Maiden


Pallas and Arachne by Peter Paul Rubens

Pallas and Arachne by Peter Paul Rubens (1636–1637)

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VAPublic Domain


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.[1]