For this week’s Wikipedia Trails, I started with Arachne after noticing a mention of her on the class Twitter. I couldn’t remember the story, so I decided to refresh myself and see what else I could find.
Arachne is a character from Greek mythology. She was an incredibly talented weaver, and she challenged Athena, goddess of crafts, to a weaving contest. Variants of the story differ in who won the challenge, but regardless of the outcome, Athena punished Arachne by turning her into a spider.
Marsyas is another character from Greek mythology who was prideful enough to contest the gods. He was a satyr and an accomplished flute player. He challenged Apollo to a music contest, as Apollo was the god of music. Everyone danced to Marsyas’s music, and everyone cried when Apollo played. The Muses decided that the contest was a draw. Apollo wouldn’t settle for this, so he played his lyre upside down. Marsyas couldn’t play his flute upside down, so Apollo won. Marsyas was skinned alive for daring to challenge the gods.
The aulos is an ancient Greek wind instrument. It has two reeds, like an oboe, and two forks. It is frequently depicted in Greek art, and archaeologists have even found remains of the instrument. The story says that Athena invented the aulos but thought she looked silly because her cheeks puffed out while she blew into it. So she threw it away and cursed anyone who picked it up. Marsyas the satyr picked it up and mastered it, and as we learned above, the gods were not very happy about that.
In Ancient Greece, the Korybantes were the dancers of the cult of the goddess Cybele. They danced and drummed while wearing armor and helmets. Dancing in armor is called Pyrrhic dancing, and it was fairly common among several different Greek cults, including the Kouretes in Crete. All these dancers were men, and the Pyrrhic dance was seen as an initiation ritual following a military victory.
Image 1: Arachne and Athena by Rene-Antoine Houasse. Source – Wikipedia.
Image 2: Youth playing the aulos. Source – Wikipedia.
Image 3: Kouretes in armor dancing around an infant. Source – Wikipedia.