A Lydian maiden, daughter of Idmon of Colophon, who was a famous dyer in purple. His daughter was greatly skilled in the art of weaving, and, proud of her talent, she even ventured to challenge Athena to compete with her. Arachne produced a piece of cloth in which the amours of the gods were woven, and as Athena could find no fault with it, she tore the work to pieces, and Arachne in despair hanged herself. The goddess loosened the rope and saved her life, but the rope was changed into a cobweb and Arachne herself into a spider (ἀράχνη), the animal most odious to Athena.

This fable seems to suggest the idea that man learned the art of weaving from the spider, and that it was invented in Lydia.


The story of Arachne is possibly depicted on a frieze at the temple of Athena on the forum of Nerva in Rome. The baroque painters Stefano della Bella and Velasquez also used the myth of Arachne as a subject.



  • Aken, Dr. A.R.A. van. (1961). Elseviers Mythologische Encyclopedie. Amsterdam: Elsevier.
  • Ovid. Metamorphoses vi, 1-145.
  • Smith, William. (1870). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. London: Taylor, Walton, and Maberly.
  • Virgil. Georgics iv, 246.

This article incorporates text from Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology (1870) by William Smith, which is in the public domain.