In Greco-Roman mythology, Arachne (pronounced /əˈrækni/) was a
great mortal weaver who boasted that her skill was greater
than that of Minerva, the Latin parallel of Pallas Athena,
goddess of crafts. Arachne refused to acknowledge that her
knowledge came, in part at least, from the goddess. The
offended goddess set a contest between the two weavers.
According to Ovid, the goddess was so envious of the
magnificent tapestry and the mortal weaver's success, and
perhaps offended by the girl's choice of subjects (the loves
and transgressions of the gods), that she destroyed the
tapestry and loom and slashed the girl's face. "Not even
Pallas nor blue-fevered Envy \ Could damn Arachne's work. \
The brown haired goddess Raged at the girl's success, struck
through her loom, Tore down the scenes of wayward joys in
heaven.″ Ultimately, the goddess turned Arachne into a
spider. Arachne simply means "spider" (ἀράχνη) in Greek...
a Lydian maiden, daughter of Idmon of Colophon, who was a
famous dyer in purple. His daughter was greatly skilled in the
art of weaving, and, proud of her talent, she even ventured to
challenge Athena to compete with her. Arachne produced a piece
of cloth in which the amours of the gods were woven, and as
Athena could find no fault with it, she tore the work to
pieces, and Arachne in despair hung herself. The goddess
loosened the rope and saved her life, but the rope was changed
into a cobweb and Arachne herself into a spider (ἀράχνη), the
animal most odious to Athena. (Ov. Met. 6.1-145; Verg. G.
4.246.) This fable seems to suggest the idea that man learnt
the art of weaving from the spider, and that it was invented
in Lydia. - A Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and
mythology, William Smith, Ed.