- Total 103
A fourth story (see the other three here):
I scuttle up the line on slender legs. One limb pulls silk smoothly from my belly While another glues it at the right point. Repeat, no thoughts needed; the design is Encoded in my nerves, automated. But Athena has left me memories, As punishment. While the other spiders (Disgusting creatures, close up) just spin and weave, I spin, weave, regret, repeat, and weave Regret right into the pattern of my web. She didn't win, you know. She saw she'd lost When she caught the looks on people's faces. Her tapestry was very well woven, Bright colors, nice detail, professional work. No one liked it, though, because it said: "I rule." It was a propaganda poster in wool: "Athena," by Athena, with peons. Mine was the opposite. I showed poor girls Seized by man-gods: how they fought in terror. I left the gods out, so my art was pure Sympathy. I was on the side of us. People had always loved to watch me work. People, and nymphs, too: they came down from Tmolus With their perfect bodies and empty heads To see someone actually making things. Their praise pleased, but it wasn't quite enough. They couldn't understand the objects they liked. They guessed Athena must have instructed me, Because they had never struggled to learn. I wanted Athena's attention--and got it With my boasts, which floated up to the sky. When an old hag came to refresh my manners, I half-knew who that woman was. (Not quite.) My curses and slurs surprised even me. I think I was asking Athena to fight. I was half pleased, then, to see the rags drop Off her and her virginal, marmoreal Perfection irradiate my poor room, Making the mortals and nymphs turn away. Time to get weaving, then; let's see who's better. She didn't have to weave well. She is divine. She could do whatever she wanted with me, Just like Idmon, my father, once Mother died (My mother, whose name no one's recorded). My famous weaving is what saved me from him. My famous art, not Athena's. When she saw It was better than hers--more popular, too-- She reasserted her authority. She ripped my fabric to bits, grabbed my distaff And started to beat me with it. My ear, My kidney got a blow, my knees, my crown. I grabbed some yarn I'd spun, thinking first to throw It round the goddess' long white neck and pull. Since hers was shockproof chryselephantine, My own neck offered a better way out. I made a noose and dropped it from a rafter. Athena must have granted me respite From my beating to prepare my suicide. As for me, I wished to steal her victory. My death would be my own doing, not hers. I would make my story end as I chose. They say the sight of me choking on my yarn Stirred some pity deep in Pallas' breast And she chose to spare me a rightful death, Graciously granting me more time to weave. But I say she made my body her art. Sprinkling belladonna and henbane On me made my hair fall out; strange words Elongated my fingers into legs. My thumbs, arms, and real legs shrank away. My teeth consolidated into fangs. Athena was loving her work. She hummed, Chuckled, paused to admire the results, Muttered encouraging words to herself, Calling herself "Athena" and "Clever girl." She shrank me by pure will and watched me hurry Up my own noose to a crack in the roof Where I again began to spin and weave. Now my pattern is hers. I watch it emerge. I see what it is once my limbs have made it Exactly the same as they've made it before.
This responds pretty closely to Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Book VI, 1-145. See also: the laughter of the gods; The Wedding of Peleus and Thetis