Here the gods war among each other and force their mortal followers, all unwitting, to fight and die as well, treating the lives of men—men with families, leaving widows and fatherless children—as mere pieces in their endless game.
Her shuttle beats softly against the loom.
Here the gods slay men themselves: Artemis in all her cruel and ever-chaste beauty sending her hounds to tear apart a hunter, her arrows and those of her brother Apollo piercing Niobe’s children, Hera the oft-betrayed seeking out Semele and Lamia’s children, Zeus devouring Metis.
The threads are bright, with dye and with her anger.
Here are the gods seeking out mortal women for their beauty, and lying with them by force or deceit. The shuttle clacks louder as Arachne lists the offenders: Zeus, again and again; Poseidon; Apollo; Dionysus. And here is Athena—who claims Arachne owes her homage for this gift, who claims Arachne owes her anything—cursing Medusa and her sisters instead of aiding her.
The tapestry sings with fury.
Here are the gods in all their petty cruelties and fears, their rivalries, their vanities, their infidelities, their insecurities: no better than the mortals whose worship they demand, and worse than many. Arachne locks each stitch into place with the fierceness of battle.
Athena has glorified the gods with the scene she has woven. Arachne steps back, silently, and allows the goddess to see her accusation.
And she thinks, with a yearning that burns in her blood, of showing it then to the world.