Athena and Arachne

A blizzard is as good a time as any to dust up on mythology.

Athena wrought on her web the scene of her contest with Poseidon. Twelve of the heavenly powers are represented, Zeus, with august gravity, sitting in the midst. Poseidon, the ruler of the sea, holds his trident, and appears to have just smitten the earth, from which a horse has leaped forth. Athena depicted herself with helmed head, her Aegis covering her breast. Such was the central circle; and in the four corners were represented incidents illustrating the displeasure of the Gods at such presumptuous mortals as had dared to contend with them. These were meant as warnings to her rival to give up the contest before it was too late.

Arachne filled her web with subjects designedly chosen to exhibit the failings and errors of the Gods. One scene represented caressing the swan, under which form Zeus had disguised himself; and another in the brazen tower in which her father had imprisoned her, but where the God effected his entrance in the form of a golden shower. Still another depicted Europa deceived by Zeus under the disguise of a bull. Encouraged by the tameness of the animal Europa ventured to mount his back, whereupon Zeus advanced into the sea and swam with her to Crete, You would have thought it was a real bull, so naturally was it wrought, and so natural the water in which it swam. She seemed to look with longing eyes back upon the shore she was leaving, and to call to her companions for help. She appeared to shudder with terror at the sight of the heaving waves, and to draw back her feel, from the water.

real spiderwebs pressed in glass by Rocky Fiore, $36-132, online and in store
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