Arachne is also a the name of a small, fast, graphical web browser made by Arachne Labs. It was originally written as a fullscreen browser for MS-DOS, but has since been ported to Linux using GGI. The MS-DOS branch is currently at version 1.70, while the Linux port is at version 1.66 alpha. The binaries of both versions weigh in at less than two megabytes.

Arachne boasts full HTML 4.0 support, including frames, imagemaps, etc. JavaScript is currently in the works. It supports different character encodings and international fonts, as well as skins. It does an exceptional job rendering all web pages - one of my former web sites displayed correctly only in Internet Exploder and Arachne.

The DOS version has an elegant packaging system, and includes support for both PPP and Ethernet connections. Unfortunately, WinSock support was scrapped before it was ever implemented. It also supports many video cards, and uses a custom EMS/XMS interface. It supports multi-threaded content downloads, and will run on chips as old as i386, at very acceptable speeds.

The Linux version does its graphics through GGI, so it runs under svgalib, X, heck, theoretically even aalib! Being an alpha realease, it doesn't yet support many helper programs directly and crashes more than one would like, but then that's why it's alpha.

Unfortunately, Arachne itself is semi-commercial software, though most of its helper programs are released under the GPL or similar. One needs only to pay the registration key if one is using Arachne for commercial purposes, otherwise, it is free.


A Lydian girl whose father, Idmon of Colophon, was a dyer. While quite young she gained the reputation for weaving and embroidery. The tapestries she designed were so beautiful that the Nymphs from the countryside around used to come to gaze at them. Her skill gained her the reputation of having been Athena's pupil, for she was the goddess of spinners and embroiderers. But Arachne was unwilling to attribute he talent to anyone but herself. She challenged the goddess, who accepted the challenge and appeared to her in the guise of an old woman. At first Athena did no more than warn Arachne and advise her to behave with great modesty: otherwise she would have to fear the goddess's wrath. Arachne replied only with insults, at which point the goddess threw off her disguise and the contest began.

The design of Pallas' tapestry showed the twelve Olympian gods in all their majesty, and as a warning to her rival, in each of the corners, Athena wove pictures showing the defeat of mortals who had dared to defy the gods. Arachne's theme on her tapestry was the least creditable love affairs of the gods: Zeus and Europa, Zeus and Danae, and so on. Her work was perfect, but Athena was so angry that she tore it up and struck her rival with the shuttle. At this abuse Arachne lost heart and hanged herself, but Athena would not let her die and changed her into a spider which continues to spin and weave until it has no more thread (for another tradition, see Phalanx).


Table of Sources:
- Ovid, Met. 6, 5ff.
- Virgil, Georg. 4, 246 with Serv. ad loc.

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