Web of Desire

Historical notes



Hercules: Her name is Arachne. She was a queen -- very vain. Very cruel. Very beautiful. But her daughter was even more beautiful than she was. So Arachne threw her own child into the sea.

Arachne was a young woman from Lydia, a kingdom of western Asia Minor, sometimes said to be of humble origin (Ovid), sometimes - a princess ("The Greek Myths" by Robert Graves).

Arachne: Zeus cursed me with this form.
". spider, victim of Minerva's spite, Athwart the doorway hangs her swaying net." (Virgil "Georgics" IV.246)
Arachne was a common maiden from Lydia with a remarkable skill in weaving. "Low was her birth, and small her native town, She from her art alone obtained renown." She won such fame that foolishly challenged Pallas to a contest. Pallas wove the scene of her contest with Neptune for the city of Athens and themes, including the fate of haughty mortals who dared to vie with the gods. Arachne depicted the gods' in all their compromising amorous adventures. One of them was the story of Hercules' birth: "...like Amphytrion, but a real Jove, In fair Alcmena's arms he cooled his love." Though Pallas herself was forced to admit that Arachne's work was flawless, being angered at the choice of subjects, she tore the tapestry to shreds and struck the maiden with the shuttle. "The unhappy maid, impatient of the wrong, Down from a beam her injured person hung." But the goddess brought her back to life - transformed Arachne into a spider, so that she and her descendants might practice the art of weaving, forever. (Ovid "Metamorphoses" VI.1-145) [Ovid was using the names of the Roman gods instead of the Greek. Pallas - Athena Pallas, Neptune - Poseidon, Jove - Zeus.]


Well, can we just say: "Herc knows this story better than Roman poets from centuries later?"




There is no Nebula in the myths or historical chronicles. But there was a line of women-pirates in Ancient time. One of the first mention of woman-pirate can be found in the Pausanias' version of well-known myth about Oedipus and the Sphinx:
"Farther on [beyond Thebes, Boeotia] we come to the mountain from which they say the Sphinx, chanting a riddle, sallied to bring death upon those she caught. Others say that roving with a force of ships on a piratical expedition she put in at Anthedon, seized the mountain I mentioned, and used it for plundering raids until Oedipus overwhelmed her by the superior numbers of the army he had with him on his arrival from Corinth." (Pausanias "Description of Greece" 9.26.2)


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