In Ancient Greece, appeasing the gods and goddesses was an important part of everyday life. The Greeks built them temples, prayed to them daily and even sacrificed a goat or two. They definitely did not want to anger them for the gods were not known for having good tempers. Just ask Arachne; who for her boastful behaviour was punished by the goddess Minerva. The poem of Arachne and Minerva written by the Roman poet Ovid is one of excitement and sorrow, not to mention it contains pieces of advice as well as some Greek history. That is why I purpose using this poem and turning it into a mini television series. I’ve listed below the details I both liked and disliked about Ovid’s version of the poem, the changes I purpose making to the poem for the series, how to fill in the information in the poem that Ovid does not mention and who the target audience for the series will be.
Firstly, I chose this particular poem for personal reasons. Minerva is one of my favorite goddesses in Greek mythology. I also chose this poem because when I was younger, my aunt told me that all the spiders in the world were descendants of Arachne and for because of this I wanted to learn more about the poem behind what my aunt had told me.
In Ovid’s book Metamorphoses, he write a poem about a young girl named Arachne and how she incurred the wrath of the goddess Minerva.
Arachne boastfully claimed that she was a better weaver then Minerva, the patroness of mortal women’s household arts. She said that she and Minerva should have a contest to decide the better weaver. Minerva appeared before Arachne in the form of an old hag supported by a walking stick. She told Arachne that she should aim to be the best weaver among mortal women as well as pray to Minerva and beg her for forgiveness for her boastful words. Arachne became angry at the old hag’s words, telling her that she didn’t need her advice and also asked why Minerva herself did not come. Minerva then reveals herself and the competition begins. Minerva’s tapestry showed the twelve Olympians gods as well as four smaller scenes with mortals who had challenged the gods and made hubris claims and were then turned into different shapes and forms. Arachne’s tapestry on the other hand showed scenes with Jupiter, Neptune, Apollo, Bacchus and Saturn on less honorable love conquests and how they deceive goddesses and mortal women. In anger, Minerva tore up Arachne’s tapestry and beat her in the face with a weaving tool. To save herself from further pain, Arachne attempts to strangles herself with a noose. As Arachne is dangling in the air, Minerva takes pity on her. She decided to revive her but at the same time, she also curses her. Minerva sprinkled Arachne’s body with a magic herb which brings her back to life but it also turns her into a spider.1
A detail that I liked about Ovid’s version of the poem was how much detail Ovid puts into describing the tapestries of both Minerva and Arachne. They are described so well that it is possible for the reader to vividly picture the tapestries in their head. Another detail I enjoyed was the word choice used in the poem. They help emphasize the meaning in each verses of the poem. An example would be when he describes a section of Minerva’s tapestry pertaining to the gift Neptune gives to the Athenians in his quest to become their patron deity:
“Neptune, the god of the ocean, was shown on his feet and striking the rugged crag with his great long trident, while sea-water gushed forth out of the cleft in the rock, to establish his claim to the city.”2
One of details that I dislike in Ovid’s version of the poem is that the names of the gods and goddesses are in Roman. While I understand that Ovid was Roman and therefore he used the Roman names of the gods, I found it difficult to understand who he was referring to by using these names instead of the Greek ones. I only understood who was who after I had looked them up.