Weaving for Eternity: The Tale of Arachne
Arachne was once a very gifted weaver in Greece. Many who viewed her wonderous tapestries thought that she had been trained by Athena herself (Athena was also a master weaver). Whenever someone would say this to Arachne, she became angry. She didn't like the idea of her work being below that of a goddess.
Athena heard about Arachne's attitude and decided to pay her a visit. Athena came to Arachne disguised as an old woman. She warned Arachne not to tempt the wrath of the gods and goddesses. Arachne simply laughed this warning off and proceeded to issue a challenge. She proclaimed that she would gladly challenge Athena to a tapestry weaving competition and said if she lost, she would take whatever punishment she had coming.
This hit a nerve for Athena, so she removed her old woman disguise and formally accepted the challenge layed out by Arachne. The two then began weaving. Athena wove together the scene of her struggle with Poseidon for the city of Athens. The scene depicted Poseidon and the salt water spring and Athena herself with the olive tree. These of course were gifts to the people who would immediately name Athena as their protector and champion and soon after, name their city after her (Athens).
Arachne wove together a tapestry depicting scenes of Zeus’ most creative affairs: His seduction of Leda in the form of a swan, Europa with the bull, His golden rain shower over Danaë. The work was so incredible that the bull seemed almost alive, running across the tapestry with an actual living girl on it's shoulders. Even Athena herself found herself in awe of the tapestry.
Athena then got into a fit of rage at this whole challenge and the choice of topics that Arachne chose to depict. She tore up Arachne's beautiful tapestry to shreds. Athena then touched the forehead of Arachne to instill a notion of guilt upon her. This only half worked as Arachne only became ashamed and depressed. Soon after, she hung herself in utter despair.
Athena pitied Arachne. She didn't expect her to commit suicide, nor did she wish for this result, so Athena brought her back to life in the form of a spider so Arachne and all her decendants could weave their work for all eternity.
It is from this tale that we get the term "Arachnid", which is the class name for spiders.