Another Side of Athena

A classic tale where you get to choose the ending.

Emily Rose
9 min readNov 14, 2022


Spiders are badass, man. Everything on the planet is terrified of them, even though all they really do is chill out in corners and consume pests. The females are massive compared to the males, which they will happily deour if given the opportunity. Also, their silk is one of the strongest and most baffling substances our reality has to offer. It could easily replace man-made textiles and even metal, if only scientists could figure out how to synthesize it.

And the little bastards use it to catch flies or whatever. What even are arachnids?

They’re super, that’s what.

Well, according to Greek myth, the very first spider was once a human person, transformed into a hideous and hated monster for the crime of slighting the gods. Or, from a certain point of view, a divine blessing of a peculiar disguise.

The tale of Arachne is a typical Greek myth that I’ve always loved for reasons I’ve only recently put words to. It’s just so… Athena, you know?

As the story goes, Arachne was a young girl and a talented weaver. Weaving was not just a practical skill, but also sacred women’s work. The spinning of chunks of wool into thread, then weaving the thread into fabric was closely associated with woman’s ability to grow new life. The bizarre and mystical power to make something new, with a power all its own, out of seemingly nothing. All women in the ancient world knew how to do these things. It was hardly special.

But Arachne was, like, really good at it. So good, in fact, that she starts bragging that she is the best weaver in the world. That even Athena — the patron goddess of weavers — isn’t as good as her.

Naturally, word gets up the very climbable Mount Olympus, and Athena shows up personally to put Arachne back in her place. The two decide to engage in a weaving contest to decide once and for all who is the best.