A young spinner and weaver called Arachne.
A young spinner and weaver called Arachne, challenged Athena. At the challenge Athena weaved the contest between herself and Poseidon over who the patron saint of Athens would be, while Arachne did a depiction of Zeus’ advances to various mortal women.
When Athena saw it she was even angrier than she had been before. She was forced to admit that Arachne’s work was flawless but the disrespectful choice of subject made her finally lose her temper. Athena destroyed Arachne’s tapestry and loom. Then she touched her forehead, making sure that she felt guilt for her actions.
Arachne was ashamed but the guilt was so overwhelming it was far too deep for a mortal to bear. Realizing her folly Arachne was crushed with shame. Terrified and in turmoil she ran into a nearby wood and hanged herself from a tree.
Athena had not expected Arachne to take her own life and took pity on her.
Sprinkling Arachne with the juices of the aconite plant, Athena loosened the rope, which became a cobweb; then she said gently, “Spin if you wish to spin”. At this Arachne slowly came back to life but not in human form, for as Athena spoke her words Arachne’s nose and ears disappeared, her arms and legs became long and slender and new legs grew beside them, then her whole body shrank until she was just a tiny little spider.
For the rest of her life Arachne was to hang from a thread and to be a great weaver and the descendents of Arachne still weave their magic webs all over the earth today.