Athena among many other things is the goddess of spinning and weaving so when she heard about a shepherd’s daughter named Arachne who was said to be a very talented weaver Athena was jealous.
Athena went to see Arachne and wanted Arachne to acknowledge that her skill as a weaver was a gift from the gods. Arachne refused to admit her talents were not exclusively her own and even said she could teach Athena something about weaving.
So Athena challenged Arachne to a weaving contest. Arachne was up for the challenge.
The two women began to weave. Arachne wove a picture that showed how the gods were sometimes cruel to people and Athena wove a picture that showed how the gods were mightier than humans.
When Athena realized that Arachne’s picture not only insulted the gods but was much more beautiful than hers, she was angry and turned Arachne into a spider. Since then Arachne and her descendants have spent their lives spinning webs.
The scientific name for creatures with eight legs arachnids comes from this story.