Earache in shame kills resell, and is resurrected by Athena to live her life as a spider so that she can continue to weave. (Book VI: 129-145) This myth serves several purposes specifically to Greek culture. Firstly, it reminds those who revere the Greek Gods; that they are not only all powerful but that they have the same nature as humans do. Athena is human in the sense that she is jealous of the work of Earache. She then returns from Jealousy to show Earache compassion and love by resurrecting her to weave forever. In a religious way is an example of the condemnation of suicide within organized religion.
All religions address suicide differently, but nevertheless it is addressed. The other common theme being that those within religious stories that choose to challenge a God/ Goddess in any way, never come out triumphant. It reminds those reading that the Gods are all powerful and always will be. This myth also creates an origin story for the word "arachnid" for spiders, a household creature. This helps the myth survive and makes it relevant to cultures across the world including my own, linking something that everyone knows, and everyone has seen to an origin and a person.
Suddenly, those scary eight-legged little monsters are a piece of a woman's soul. They weave for the woman that bore them. When a small child is about to squash the spider and their loved one stops them and tells them the story of Earache. The creature that Earache is turned into, directly reflects her as a woman. Firstly, the talented weaver is resurrected as a creature that weaves to survive. Secondly, after she has hung herself to end her life, she is turned into a creature that hangs onto the material that extends her life. She must now live from the art that caused her to take her own life.
Besides teaching readers an example of hubris, the story teaches the importance of not boasting. When Athena is warned of the young woman's challenge, she gives her a last chance to learn some humility. The woman continues to boast and ignores the ominous warning. The practical piece of this myth is that it would be, could be told to children because it teaches so many warnings. It is fairly easy to imagine the matriarch or patriarch of the family sitting down the small proud child and telling them the story of Earache, and letting their eyes brighten as they relate and understand the story in all its power and meaning.
The reason most myths and stories remain in a culture is usually centric to religion. Nearly every culture on the planet has some form of organized religion. The reason that stories linked to religion carry on, opposed to others is that they draw people together. These ideologies are passed among family members, on through generations and create links between families. This is part of the reason that other stories, not religiously based do not survive. They remain in families, changing over time, never chronicled and decomposing slowly over time.
Build a big enough religious following and your stories will live forever. I find many of these stories including Earache's fascinating but slightly dramatic. Killing yourself over a ripped tapestry is a bit over the top. The phrase "crying over spilt milk" comes to mind. I understand the stories purpose as a lesson but wonder whether there wasn't a less severe way to get the point across. This specific story will live on because its namesake creatures are a household critter. I wonder if people see spiders and think "if only Earache wouldn't have challenged Athena.