From sailors who were turned into pigs,
nymphs that sprouted into trees,
and a gaze that convertedthe beholder to stone,
Greek mythology brims with shape-shifters.
The powerful gods usually changedtheir own forms at will,
but for mortals, the mutationswere often unwanted.
One such unnerving transformationbefell the spinner Arachne.
Arachne was the daughterof a tradesman
who spent his days dying cloththe deepest shades of purple.
She had a flair for spinningthe finest threads,
weaving them into flowing fabric, and creating magnificent tapestries.
People flocked to watch her handsflying across her loom,
as if thread sprung directlyfrom her fingertips.
But as praise for her work grew,so did her pride.
Arachne could often be heardboasting about her skills,
declaring that her talent surpassedanyone else’s—mortal or divine.
She refused to see weavingas a gift from the gods. Rather,
she flaunted itas her own personal genius. Unfortunately,
the goddess of wisdomand crafts, Athena,
overheard Arachnemaking these claims.
Planning to teachthe ungrateful girl a lesson,
Athena disguised herself as an old woman and stole amongst the mortals.
She berated Arachne in public—
how dare the weaver claimherself greater than the gods?
But Arachne only laughed,barely looking up from her loom. Provoked,
the old woman threw off her cloak to reveal her true form.
If Arachne insisted on defaming the gods,
Athena would challenge herto a contest directly.
Masking her shock at the appearanceof the grey-eyed goddess,
Arachne accepted the challenge.
Athena drew up her own glittering loom as a great crowd gathered to watch.
比赛开始了 全神贯注 梭子飞舞
The weavers began,eyes fixed and shuttles blurring.
Athena conjuredwisps of cloud from above
and slender threads of grass from below in a spectacle of strength.
She wove tremendous scenesthat showed the power of the gods:
Poseidon riding the waves,
Zeus firing thunderbolts, and Apollo hurtling across the sky.
In Athena ’ s splendid tapestry,
the glory of the gods dwarfed mortal life.
But Arachne had no interestin boosting godly egos.
Her tapestry showed the godsabusing their power:
他们口角不断 纵情声色 大吹大擂
squabbling amongst themselves, drinking and bragging,
and meddling in the lives of mortals.
She represented Zeus as a philanderer,transfiguring himself to ensnare women:
a swan for Leda, a bull for Europa,
a shower of gold for Danae.
Arachne then turnedto the misdemeanors of other gods,
from Pluto’s abduction of Persephone
to Bacchus’s wild pursuit of Erigone.
Even though she cast the godsin the most unflattering light,
Arachne’s work shone with her dazzling skill.
Her tapestry was almost alive,
filled with movement and lustrous colors
that winked triumphantly.
When Athena saw Arachne’s undeniablybetter and flagrantly subversive work,
she flew into a rageand turned on the human weaver.
Arachne’s glee dimmed as she felt her bodyshrinking and contorting.
Her fingers waved wildlyas her arms stuck to her sides,
and black hairsprouted all over her body.
The goddess left Arachne with a single spool
of thread unfurling from her belly,
a slim reminder of her human talent.
For challenging the assumptionthat the gods were untouchable,
Athena had shrunk her adversaryinto the first spider.
To this day, Arachne and her children spinout her penance—
or is it undaunted persistence
in the shadows of giants？