I captured this Carrhotus Spider on a leaf at Mala near Karkala. It had rained a little while before the shoot. Water drops were still all around its silken cell. I was using Canon EOS 5D Mark IV fitted with Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM with Godox Ving V860C II E-TTL Li-ion Camera Flash and Home made diffuser. Carrhotus species tend to be found in silken cells in low vegetation in the open. They are not very colourful and are sturdy, solid-looking spiders.
Carrhotus is a very widespread genus of dull coloured salticids. The cephalothorax is quite high with the top slightly convex, with the rear of the thorax and the sides very steep. In the plan, the carapace is U-shaped with the rear margin fairly widely truncated. The abdomen is oval, tapering somewhat towards the rear. The legs are longish, slender and all about the same length.
Small to medium-sized spiders with a conspicuous, longer than wide cephalothorax with a distinctly sloping posterior. Wider than long ocular quadrangle with posterior median eyes midway between anterior lateral and posterior laterals. Abdomen perfectly oval, blackish or brownish general colouration with the chevron pattern in some. Unident chelicerae with two teeth on pro-margin and one on retro-margin.
For the male the eye area is blackish and the remainder of the carapace dark brown. There are numerous white hairs just below the rear eyes and on the sides of the carapace. The abdomen is dark brown with some thin white chevrons posteriorly and a wide collar of white hairs around the shoulders. Dull brown, stout to large salticids. Found on shrubs and plants.
The female is somewhat lighter in colour, and the corresponding hairs on both the carapace and the abdomen are fawn coloured. The legs are yellowish-brown with brown annulations.
The range of Carrhotus consists of the Palaearctic and the tropics from Africa to Borneo. Three species are reported from India so far – Carrhotus viduus, Carrhotus tristis, Carrhotus sannio.
There is an interesting study which was carried on one of the species of Carrhotus which finds that males perceive the presence of the female by the silk laid by her at the bottom of the branch when they touch it. Males then extend their first pair of legs forward and paw the branch which is occupied by the female. In so doing, they walk slowly up and down in an erratic motion and eventually reach the top of the tree close to the female.
Carrhotus genus was established by Thorell in 1891. He named it after Greek charioteer Carrhotus. I found the fascinating story about Carrhotus in a Greek mythology especially among the odes written by the Greek poet Pindar (c. 518-428 BC). He composed victory odes for winners in the ancient Games, including the Olympics. He celebrated the victories of athletes competing in foot races, horse races, boxing, wrestling, all-in fighting and the pentathlon, and his Odes are fascinating not only for their poetic qualities but for what they tell us about the Games. Pindar praises the victor by comparing him to mythical heroes and the gods but also reminds the athlete of his human limitations.
Chariot racing was dangerous (analogous to modern Formula One motor-car racing), so the wealthy and eminent victors did not normally take part themselves but employed charioteers. Arcesilas appointed Carrhotus as his charioteer for the contest.
Arcesilas and Carrhotus are the only two mortals to be addressed in the vocative case, and both are pronounced “blessed”. Like Arcesilas, Carrhotus is identified with Battus, the founder and first king of Cyrene: both received great rewards for great toils, and both made the journey from Delphi to Cyrene.
Carrhotus, son of Alcibiades is described in detail in Pindar’s “Pythian 5”. He is praised for bringing his chariot home undamaged, while every other charioteer, among the forty-one competitors, crashed; this emphasizes not only his skill but also his bravery in a genuinely dangerous competition. Further, Pindar’s observation that his reins were “unsullied” may be intended to suggest that the reins were not dirtied by dust kicked up by teams in front of him; that is, that Carrhotus led from start to finish.
According to Pythian 5, the undamaged chariot was itself dedicated in Apollo’s temple at Delphi, “close beside” the actual statue of Apollo which the Cretans set up when they founded the sanctuary.