Gateway to the Classics: For the Children's Hour by Carolyn S. Bailey
For the Children's Hour by  Carolyn S. Bailey

The Story of Arachne

T HERE was once a beautiful little earth-child named Arachne, who was a wonderful weaver of tapestry. She lived with her father in a far-away forest and she set her loom out under the trees, that she might match the colors of the birds, the flowers and the sky.

As her fingers flew in and out among the bright threads, the fairies left their play under the trees to watch her. The cloth grew wide and long, and Arachne wove such beautiful pictures upon it that one could almost hear the rustling of the trees and smell the gay flowers.

"The goddess Minerva, the mother of all the weavers, must help her," cried all who watched Arachne; but Arachne was a proud child. She tossed her head. "No one helps me," she cried, "and no one can weave as well as I," she said scornfully.

One day an old woman in a long, dark cloak came through the forest and stopped by Arachne's loom.

"It is wonderful tapestry," she said, "but you must not expect to excel the gods, my child."

Proud Arachne laughed scornfully.

"If the goddess Minerva herself were here," she said, "I would show her that my work is the better."

In a second the long, dark cloak fell from the old woman's shoulders, and there stood the beautiful goddess Minerva!

"We shall see," she said.

So Arachne and the goddess Minerva began weaving. Minerva wove the picture of a wonderful palace where every one was doing a kind deed for some one else, but through Arachne's cloth there ran a thread of pride and selfishness that tangled and knotted until it quite spoiled the picture.

Then Arachne threw herself upon her loom and hid her face in the cloth, and tried to choke herself with the threads because she was angry to see that any one could weave better than she. But the goddess Minerva touched her upon her forehead, and Arachne began to shrivel, and twist about the threads in her loom, until she changed to a spider—the mother of all the spiders, who must spin and spin from morning till night! And that is how the spider came to weave such a wonderful web.

— Adapted from the Greek myth
by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey

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