Ovid metamorphoses:

Arachne’s Tapestry


Arachne's tapestry
Ovid book VI lines 105-129; translation by More (More and Breuer)

            Arachne of Maeonia, wove, at first
the story of Europa as the bull
deceived her, and so perfect was her art,
it seemed a real bull in real waves.
Europa seemed to look back towards the land
which she had left; and to call in her alarm
to her companions - and as she feared
the touch of dashing waters, to draw up
her timid feet, while she was sitting on
the bull's back.

            And she wove Asterie seized
by the assaulting eagle; and beneath the swan's
white wings showed Leda lying by the stream:
            And showed Jove dancing as a satyr, when
he sought the beautiful Antiope,
to whom was given twins; and how he seemed
Amphytyron when he deceived Alcmene;
And how he courted lovely Danae
luring her as a gleaming shower of gold;
And tricked Aegina, as a deceiving flame,
Jove seemed a shepherd with Mnemosyne;
And beautiful Proserpina succumbed
to him in his guise as a spotted snake.

            And in her web Arachne wove the scenes
Of Neptune: - who was shown first as a bull,
when he was deep in love with virgin Arne
Then as Enipeus when the giant twins,
Aloidae, were begot; and as the ram
that gambolled with Bisaltis; as a horse
Loved by the fruitful Ceres, golden haired,
all-bounteous mother of the yellow grain;
And as the bird that hovered round snake-haired
Medusa, mother of the winged horse;
And as a dolphin sporting with the nymph,
Melantho. - All of these were true
to life, in proper shapes.

                                    And there she showed
Apollo, when disguised in various forms:
as when he seemed a rustic, and as when
he wore hawk-wings, and then the tawny skin
of a great lion, and once more when he
deluded Isse, as a shepherd lad.

            And there was Bacchus, when he was disguised
as a large cluster of grapes,
deluding by that wile the beautiful
Erigone; - and Saturn, as a steed,
begetter of the dual-natured Chiron.

            And then Arachne, to complete her work,
wove all around the web a patterned edge
of interlacing flowers and ivy leaves.