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According to Greek mythology, the origin of the spider came about as the result of a lost contest and the resulting suicide. In the story of Athena and Arachne, Arachne was a talented weaver who believed that her skill was even greater than that of the Goddess Athena. So, Arachne (which means "spider" in Greek) challenged Athena to a weaving contest. Both works were magnificent: Athena wove an image of her victory over Poseidon; Arachne's tapestry displayed 21 examples of infidelity among the gods. Arachne's finished product was deemed perfect by Athena, but the subject matter infuriated the goddess. Athena destroyed Arachne's tapestry and cursed her to live out the rest of her life in overwhelming guilt. Arachne eventually hanged herself. In response, Athena--using the juice of wolfsbane--reincarnated Arachne as a spider which retained Arachne's weaving abilities.
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