- Pages: 8
- Word count: 1884
- Category: Pride
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Many years of ago Athena was born from Metis and Zeus. Her beginning wasn’t a pleasant one. Zeus feared the child her mother, Metis the titan of knowledge, would bare, so he ate her just as his father did to his siblings. However, Zeus soon gained a splitting headache. He called forth Hephaestus, the god of the forge, and had Hephaestus take his mighty hammer and slam it into his head. When Zeus’ head split up out came Athena in all her glory, fully grown and outfitted with battle armor .
In some versions of the myth to follow, Athena was raised by Triton and along side his daughter Pallas. Pallas and Athena were childhood friends. They would do everything together from pulling pranks on the palace servants to braiding each other’s hair. One day when the girls were older, they were sparing when Pallas met a terrible fate. Athena’s spear had accidently run through her. Athena was enraged over herself for her carelessness with her friend’s life. She was also in great anguish. She wouldn’t have her best friend by her side any longer. Pallas’ death changed Athena in manMythmakery ways. I also believe that if she had lived many decisions Athena had made in the coming years would be different as well. What if Athena had prayed to her father Zeus to save her dear friend and make her immortal? How would having Pallas in her life affected how Athena viewed and handled Arachne during the weaving competition when her pride was on the line?
Our first story about Athena and her everlasting friendship with Pallas takes us to Lydia into the home of a young weaver known to the people of her city as Arachne. Lydia was already pretty well known for its beautiful textiles and brilliantly crafty spinners, but Arachne was much more gifted than any spinner before her. Unfortunately, Arachne was also very aware of how talented she was and honestly its no surprise that she would be so conceited. Since she was a young girl her family exploited her gifts for weaving and spinning in order to increase the family’s wealth. Many travelers came far and wide to purchase her textiles which were so beautiful and life-like that the travelers couldn’t help but sing her praise. Now please do not misunderstand me. It is fine to be proud of your work, especially if you spend so much time perfecting your skills as Arachne had, however do not let it overtake you like it did for Arachne. She boasted to anyone who would hear about her incredible ability. Many of those who witnessed her ability believed that Athena herself must have taught her. Such implication angered Arachne. Her work was all her own! How dare they imply that she would need any help! Arachne very quickly believed herself to be even better than Athena. And she was not shy when it came to share her beliefs. From then on Arachne made sure to inform every traveler that came to see her works that she worked alone, without any divine help, especially Athena’s.
Of course, Athena heard of Arachne’s bold claims. How could she not? Every mortal was talking about Arachne’s beautiful works. It had gotten to the point where the nymphs were singing her praises. This infuriated Athena. Many of the Olympians recognized her rage and steered clear of Athena, fearing it being turned upon them. Not Pallas though. Athena’s longest friend did not fear Athena’s wrath. In fact, she welcomed it. Pallas believed a little angry could be therapeutic for her perfectionist friend. Besides, Athena had already run her through with a spear once before, what much more could she do? So, Pallas entered Athena’s home on Mount Olympus where her friend was stowing about mumbling about arrogant, young mortals needing to be taught a lesson about respect. Taking a deep breath and steeling herself, Pallas prepares to launch into her argument about how Athena should forgive the mortal girl or at the very least not be too harsh in her punishment. As Pallas opened her mouth to say the first word “My-”, Athena quickly turns towards her and tells her that they were going to go to Lydia and witness Arachne’s work for themselves. Pallas doubted that this was a good idea, but Athena is her friend and she would follow her friend to the end of the world. Or in this case, Lydia.
Once Athena and Pallas were on the outskirts of Lydia, Pallas turned to her friend knowing that she would have some plan up her sleeve since she very well couldn’t enter the city in all her Athena glory. And her friend did have a plan. A very clever plan in Pallas’ opinion. Athena decided that she would disguise herself as an old grandmother out for a stroll with her granddaughter. Pallas would be playing the granddaughter. When they came across Arachne, she was in the middle of weaving another beautiful tapestry. The rumors Pallas and Athena had heard abut Arachne’s work were true, she was quite talented. Pallas was excited to witness Arachne’s work and thought that now that they had seen her work, they would be on their way back to Olympus. Unfortunately, Pallas was wrong. Athena disguised as the grandmother moved forward and opened her mouth to speak to Arachne. Her friend complimented the young women’s work, but also gave her a warning not offend the gods anymore than she had already done. Athena as the grandmother also, gave her the advice to ask for forgivingness for comparing her skills to that of a goddess. Pallas knew that going to Lydia was a bad idea. She was only proven right as Arachne’s face contorted into anger at her friend’s advice.
Arachne couldn’t believe that some random old women would come up to her and say such things. She was truly better than Athena. So, she told the older women just that. She also, decided to tell the older women that she would better Athena at any weaving competition.
What Arachne was not expecting was for the older women to turn into Athena herself. Those who’ve watched the interaction up until this point were suddenly very afraid. The people were afraid for Arachne, who would not stop insulting Athena, and for themselves because they wouldn’t stop Arachne from insulting the goddess. Noting the fear on their faces, Pallas attempted to reassure the people of Lydia that her friend would not punish them for the deeds of another. That they would be safe. Arachne on the other hand…
The young weaver was afraid, especially now that the goddess stood before her, but she had made a claim and her pride would not let her back down. Seeing the challenge in the girl’s eyes, Athena came up with another plan. A plan that would remind this silly mortal girl of her place. Pallas noticing the gleam in her best friend’s eyes, groan in despair. She opened her mouth to ask her friend what on earth she could possibly be thinking? Athena turned to her in giddiness and she said that she has a little wager in mind for the young weaver. A wager? Pallas wondered why on earth her friend would want a wager with someone who couldn’t give her something that she didn’t already have. Then it hit her. Pallas knew her friend’s pride had been hurt and if she won the wager then Arachne would have to admit total defeat.
Athena set the terms of the wager with Arachne. Both would use a loom to create a tapestry and they would only have one day to complete it. If Arachne won, then Athena would gracefully admit defeat and give Arachne her loom. If Athena won, then Arachne would take back all her words and beg the goddess for forgiveness. To Pallas the wager appeared to be fairly tame. But Pallas couldn’t help the dread that settled into her stomach. She was almost certain that something would go wrong. Alas there was nothing she could do about it now that the two of them began to weave.
Athena and Arachne weaved for hours. They begun at daybreak and continued till just after dusk. The next morning the two-woman compared what they had made for everyone to see. Athena created a stunning tapestry that showed Mount Olympus, the other immortals, and all the mortal that they had helped. Some of the scenes shown were of the Olympians helping heroes during quests or the Trojan War , Prometheus giving man fire , and of Athena herself giving Athens olive trees. Many people their marveled at Athena’s work and how the tapestry seemed to tell a story. Pallas was so proud of what her friend had created and believed it to be on of Athena’s best pieces. Arachne on the other hand had also created a beautiful tapestry, but the images depicted were not beautiful like Athena’s was. The young weaver had sewn images of the Olympians in some of their darkest times. She showed scenes of Apollo chasing after women that did not want his attention , Zeus raping other women , Pandora letting all the evil things out into the world and of the other immortals behaving rather poorly. Pallas saw that Arachne’s creation was also life-like but knew the young girl would pay for her rudeness, especially once her friend analyzed the work.
Athena recognized that Arachne’s work was technically flawless but could not let the fact that she had made a mockery of the gods go. So, she destroyed the tapestry. Athena was still angry. So very angry. She wanted Arachne to truly repent for what she had done. As Athena was reaching for Arachne’s loom, Pallas reached forward and grabbed her friend’s wrist. She gave Athena a sad smile because she knew how much this must hurt her friend, to see her family being shown as monsters for everyone to see. Athena felt much of her anger leave her when she looked at her friend. The goddess sighed and gave Pallas a smile of her own. Then decided to reach toward Arachne. However, instead of going with her original plan of making the weaver feel all guilt and shame that Athena had original believed her to deserve and destroying her prized loom, the goddess decided to only make her feel a little bit of guilt and to let her keep her loom. The amount of guilt and shame was enough for Arachne to realize all she had done wrong and to ask Athena for forgiveness. Athena granted her redemption.
Pallas was proud of her friend. Athena was a goddess, she did not need to give Arachne redemption and could very well have destroy her. Many of the other immortals would have killed Arachne without a second thought, but that’s what makes Athena is much more than the other immortals. She, as the goddess of wisdom, could see that nothing productive would come from such and anger and foolishness. And years later, when Arachne grew old and too weak to weave, Athena turned her into a spider, so she may continue to weave beautiful creations for all of eternity.