Suda, alpha 3749
“Spidery web” or “Spidery Thread”: the thinnest
In the Epigrams, “spindle, the much-whirling attendant of spidery thread”
᾿Αράχνειον νῆμα καὶ ᾿Αραχναῖος μίτος, ὁ λεπτότατος.
ἐν ᾿Επιγράμμασι· ἀραχναίοιο μίτου πολυδινέα λάτριν ἄτρακτον.
Philostratus, Imagines 2. 28: Looms
“Since you sing of Penelope’s loom because you discovered a fine painting of it and it seems to have everything a loom requires–it is stretched well on the warp and the puffs sit beneath the threads, and the shuttle practically sings while Penelope herself weeps tears that Homer uses to melt the snow as she unmakes what she weaves–look at the spider weaving next door, to see if it does not weave Penelope and the Seres well too, even though their designs are fine and their work is barely visible.
This entryway is to a house that is not so wealthy. You might even say that it is abandoned by its owners and that the courtyard inside seems abandoned. The columns no longer raise the roof; they have dropped down and fallen. No, only spiders live here–for this animal loves to weave in peace.
Look at the threads too: as the spiders spit out their thread they hang it down to the floor–and so the painter has them climbing down or scurrying up and trying to figure out to fly, as Hesiod claims. They weave their homes in the corners: the flat ones and the hollow ones. The flat ones are good for the summer heat; they hollow they weave for the winter cold.”
1) Ἐπεὶ τὸν τῆς Πηνελόπης ἱστὸν ᾄδεις ἐντετυχηκὼς ἀγαθῇ γραφῇ καὶ δοκεῖ σοι πάντα ἱστοῦ ἔχειν, στήμοσί τε ἱκανῶς ἐντέταται καὶ ἄνθεα κεῖται ὑπὸ τῶν μίτων καὶ μόνον οὐχ ὑποφθέγγεται ἡ κερκὶς αὐτή τε ἡ Πηνελόπη 15κλαίει δακρύοις, οἷς τὴν χιόνα τήκει Ὅμηρος, καὶ ἀναλύει ἃ διύφηνεν, ὅρα καὶ τὴν ἀράχνην ὑφαίνουσαν ἐκ γειτόνων, εἰ μὴ παρυφαίνει καὶ τὴν Πηνελόπην καὶ τοὺς Σῆρας ἔτι, ὧν τὰ ὑπέρλεπτα καὶ μόλις ὁρατά. (2) Οἰκίας μὲν οὐκ εὖ πραττούσης προπύλαια ταῦτα· φήσεις αὐτὴν χηρεύειν δεσποτῶν, αὐλὴ δὲ ἔρημος εἴσω παραφαίνεται, καὶ οὐδὲ οἱ κίονες αὐτὴν ἔτι ἐρείδουσιν ὑπὸ τοῦ συνιζάνειν καὶ καταρρεῖν, ἀλλ᾿ ἔστιν οἰκητὸς ἀράχναις μόναις· φιλεῖ γὰρ τὸ ζῷον ἐν ἡσυχίᾳ διαπλέκειν. ὅρα καὶ τὰ μηρύματα· τοῦτο ἀναπτύουσαι τὸ νῆμα καθιᾶσιν εἰς τοὔδαφος—δεικνύει δὲ αὐτὰς ὁ ζωγράφος κατιούσας δι᾿ αὐτοῦ καὶ ἀναρριχωμένας ἀερσιποτήτους κατὰ τὸν Ἡσίοδον καὶ μελετώσας πέτεσθαι—καὶ οἰκίας δὲ προσυφαίνουσι ταῖς γωνίαις τὰς μὲν εὐρείας, τὰς δὲ κοίλας· τούτων αἱ μὲν εὐρεῖαι χρησταὶ θερίζειν, ἃς1 δὲ κοίλας ὑφαίνουσιν, ἀγαθὸν τοῦτο χειμῶνος.
Vergil (sp.?) Elegy for Maecenas 1.139-144
“You would have outlasted the years of old Nestor,
If I had been allowed to measure your destiny’s threads.
But now, all I can manage is this: “Earth, have a light touch on his bones.
Please keep your weight aloft as if balanced.
For this we will always give you garlands, forever give you perfumes.
You will never thirst, but always be covered in flowers.”
Nestoris annosi vicisses saecula, si me
dispensata tibi stamina nente forent.
nunc ego, quod possum: “Tellus, levis ossa teneto,
pendula librato pondus et ipsa tuom.
semper serta tibi dabimus, tibi semper odores,
non umquam sitiens, florida semper eris
From the Suda
s.v. Agnoei d’arakhnê paidas hôs paideuetai: “A spider doesn’t know how she teaches her children”. This is because after she feeds them, she dies at their hands. This is a proverb about taking care of something against your own interest.”
Ἀγνοεῖ δ’ ἀράχνη παῖδας ὡς παιδεύεται. θρέψασα γὰρ τέθνηκε πρὸς τῶν φιλτάτων: ἐπὶ τῶν καθ’ ἑαυτῶν τι πραγματευομένων.