Friday, September 1st, 2017

The Arachne Contest

This contest is closed. Thanks to everyone who entered! I’ll announce the winner by December 10, when the next contest will launch, too.


The Contest: Write a story of 5,000 words or less about the myth below.

Deadline: November 30 by midnight

Entry Fee: FREE!

Prize: $300


The Myth

Arachne was the daughter of a humble cloth-dyer, but she was famous anyway. She had learned the art of weaving from Athena, and her skill at the loom was unequaled among mortals.

But Arachne didn’t like to admit that Athena taught her this art. Instead, she decided to challenge Athena to a weaving contest to see who was better. (Bad move.)

Athena wasn’t too happy with this development, but she decided to give the girl a chance to redeem herself. Athena appeared to Arachne disguised as a decrepit old woman, and warned her that while seeking respect for your skill among other mortals was okay, it wasn’t cool to claim you were superior to the gods.

Arachne was like, “Ew, you’re old. And not wise, for such an old woman. You love Athena so much? Let her stop being a coward and accept my challenge!”

So that’s what Athena did.

The weaving games began. Athena wove gorgeous images of the gods in their glory on Olympus, especially focusing on people who had dared to challenge the gods and suffered as a result. (She was basically trying to warn Arachne not to push her luck.)

Arachne decided to weave images of the gods too . . . but she focused on stories where the gods attacked, tricked, and raped mortals.

Athena took a look at Arachne’s work, and could find no technical flaw in it. It was perfectly woven. But it was also blasphemous.

Athena beat Arachne over the head with a weaving shuttle, and Arachne couldn’t escape the blows. She tried to hang herself, but Athena wouldn’t let her get away with that, either. She turned Arachne into a spider.

Read more about Arachne on Theoi.


I’ll judge entries based on:

— Word count. Please stick to 5,000 words or less. It can be much less, if you want. (I only have so much time to read entries, and it would be a shame to toss yours out because it’s too long!)

— Writing prowess. Your skill doesn’t have to rival Athena’s, but do give it your best shot. An understanding of how to structure a story, how to use dialogue, and all that jazz will work in your favor. (Spelling, grammar, and typos count.)

— An understanding of the Athena archetype and the myth itself.

Send your entry to my email: Please paste your entry in the body of your email, since I won’t open attachments. The subject line should be “The Arachne Contest.” Please write your entry in English and in prose. You can email me any questions at the same address. I’ll have a winner by December 10. Subscribe to Mythraeum to see the winner.

Have questions? See if your answers are in the Writers FAQ.


You can use some of these ideas in your story, or none of them. Your Athena can be the goddess of wisdom and the arts, an overbearing boss, or a cruel crazy grandmother. Your story doesn’t have to be set in Ancient Greece (but it can be). You can set it in modern times or on a spaceship. Turn it into a Western or steampunk, or even do the Jane Austen version.

You don’t have to tell the whole story. You can write a quick vignette, or get as sweeping and epic as you can in 5,000 words. You can focus on Athena, or Arachne, or the story from the point of view of a spider. Get creative!

Good luck arche-typers!


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