Paul Gustave Doré, Arachne

Date: 1867

Illustration for Dante's Purgatorio, Canto 12

In Greco-Roman mythology, Arachne was a great mortal weaver who boasted that her skill was greater than that of Athena, goddess of wisdom and strategy. Arachne refused to acknowledge that her knowledge came, in part at least, from the goddess. Offended by Arachne's arrogance, Athena set a contest between the two weavers. According to Ovid, the goddess was so envious of the magnificent tapestry and the mortal weaver's success, and perhaps offended by the girl's choice of subjects (the loves and transgressions of the gods), that she destroyed the tapestry and loom and slashed the girl's face. “Not even Pallas nor blue-fevered Envy \ Could damn Arachne's work. \ The brown haired goddess Raged at the girl's success, struck through her loom, Tore down the scenes of wayward joys in heaven.″ Ultimately, the goddess turned Arachne into a spider. Arachne simply means "spider" (ἀράχνη) in Greek.



  1. Oh my god! This picture is terribly awful! Gustave Doré is one of my favorite illustrator and this illustration of Arachne's Metamorphosis is certainly the best I've ever seen!

    Sorry for my english which is not perfect (I'm french!)
    Best Regards from France.


  2. Thanks for the comment, Aquarius.
    This picture is really impressive.

  3. Hello Dark Classics,

    "Impressive" is certainly the best adjective to paint this picture.

    I'm a regular visitor of your website. I love the french decadent period of the XIX century : Huysmans, Lautréamont, Barbey d'Aurevilly, Peladan...

    Thank you very much for your website.



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