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© 1998 As Retold by Ms. Holly

Once long ago almost before time began there were many many great and powerful spirits. They lived in a place and time which has almost been forgotten by most who still exist. The stories are called legends, fables, and faerie tales. Many no longer are told as they once happened but I have a tale to tell you of a very very vain woman who came to her own demise because of her elevated feelings of self worth because of her talent and beauty.

Once long ago there was born a beautiful child named Aristophane who grew into a beautiful young woman. She would have nothing to do with all the men in her village because her parents had been told by the Oracles (prophets who see into destiny) that she would be married to one of the great immortals. Often immortals referred to as Gods but actually they were just extremely advanced species who probably evolved from something similar to humans. They were called immortals for they lived almost forever if they did not come to some untimely demise. So she awaited her fate and her one true love.

She had waited a long long time and had begun to doubt what had been said and to grow sad and weary. One day when whe went to draw water from a nearby stream she sat down to gaze at herself. She was beginning to loose her youth and her beauty. As she sat there a shadow passed over her. She looked up and there in front of her was one of the most attractive men she had ever seen in her life. They became friends and eventually they married and the prophecy was all together forgotten.

One day Aristophane while her husband was away (as he often was) gave birth to a very very beautiful girl whom she named Areachne. Arachne grew up to be more beautiful than any girl that had been seen in the land, she could run faster, out compete the young men, she did better at her studies, chores were no burden, and she was the most skilled woman in all of the land at anything she tried.

One day when Areachne was playing with her friends they began to ask her when she would marry...and she said to them proudly, "I have no interest in these foolish young men here, how could I ever be satisfied with such when I can run faster and do more work than them...I am so much better than they are at anything and any female around here that they could not possibly be worthy of me."

Her friends looked at her and just shook their heads. One replied, "But then what shall you do if you are not to end up alone?"

Areachne sat for awhile thinking and then replied, "I shall have a contest and whomever can do better than me at anything I will give prizes to. This should bring many a young man here from far away for me to select from. And to show them how good and worthy I am I shall weave a tapestry for them to see for I can weave as well as the Goddess Athena if not better." So they all set off to help her set up her competition.

There is one thing that mortals should always remember which Areachne had forgotten is that immortals have ears that can hear better than anything on earth, they can hear the sun rise, they can hear to butterfly breathe and they can understand what animals are saying. While Arachne was talking with her friends a group of crows nearby had been listening. One flew up to a nearby mountain and began discussing the feast and festival that was about to transpire because there would be plenty of crumbs, and food left about afterwards. Athen happened to pass by and here what they said about the weaving contest and what Arachnea had said about her talent and decided she would go to compete.

On the day of the festival and all the competitions were being held Areachne was not without admiration for a few of the young men who came to the competition so she finally decided she would have the weaving contest to show them that she was not only attractive, and strong but also very very skilled which made her a more than worthy choice for a suitor. As Arachne began to sit to weave everyone gathered around to watch...and elderly woman in a long cape which hung over her head began watching. She finally said to Areachne as she was weaving my how beautiful do you mind if I compete. Arachne looked at the old woman and said, "Why would you want to embarass yourself you could not possibly compete."

The old woman held out a piece of jewelery so intricately made that it had to have been made by the Gods themselves. The old woman then said, "Well how about we make a wager I give you this precious jewelry if I loose and you will give me what is very precious to you if you loose. To make it fair we shall have the crowd decide who is the winner."

Areachne was so sure of herself and was so entranced by the idea of owning jewelery made by the Gods that she did not hesitate for one minute and began weaving away. She wove scenes of villages, and young maidens in love, she wove scenes of great battles and warriors, ships that sailed the the uncharted seas. When she finished everyone was sure the old woman would loose her jewelery. Areachne got up and said, "You can just give me the jewelery and spare yourself the embarrassment."

The old woman just sat down and began to weave. Out poured scenes so magical and mystical it was as if the animals and plants were alive. That the food was real and edible on the tables of the feasts. She wove scenes of the Gods and how they helped protect the world. It was if some magical force had taken hold of the old woman and as she wove she began to look younger and more beautiful as she sat there weaving. When she finished the girl looked down in shame. The old woman threw back the hood of her cloak and there before the crowd stood Athena herself.

"Do you remember what we bet?" asked Athena.

"Yes." replied Areachne. Areachne began to untie her most precious piece of jewelery she had around her neck.

"No Areachne you bet something that was most precious to yourself which is your life." responded Athena. With that Athena raised her hands and a flash happened and Areachnea began to shrivel up and shrink.

Her father jumped forward and cried, "No mother this is my daughter!"

Athena looked up in horror as she saw her son who had Areachnea in his arms as she was shriveling and growing old. She raised her hands and she stopped the process before Areachne completely disapeared...but before she could reverse her actions Areachne looked up at her and scampered away in fright.

Everyone searched for Areachne but could not find her she was too shocked and scared to show herself again after what had transpired.

Eventually her parents took the rest of the children they had to another place and made sure to be more cautious in their lessons to them.

Areachne had become very very small indeed so small that she could barely be seen...eventually she fell in love with another small and ugly creature and they had many many offspring. You can see them still today as they weave their webs.

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