The Fates: Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos

The Moirae (or Fates) were the goddesses who controlled the destiny of everyone from when they are born to the time of their death. They were:

  • Clotho - "the spinner"; she spun the thread of a person's life. Her Roman name was Nona.
  • Lachesis, "the disposer"; she measured the length of thread spun by Clotho, deciding how much time a person had to live and what their destiny would be. Her Roman name was Decima.
  • Atropos, the "inflexible" or "inevitable"; she cut the thread with "abhorred shears", ending a person's life. Her Roman name was Morta.

Everyone, including the immortal gods, feared these goddesses of fate. The Fates were very important, but it is still unknown to who their parents were. The Fates are children of Nyx. However, there is some speculation that they may be the daughters of Zeus and Themis, but this is debatable.

The Fates were described by the Greeks most often as ugly hags, cold and merciless in their work of supervising the fates of everyone. They are compared and contrasted with the Norns of Norse myth.

In Mythology

When Atropos cut the thread of King Admetus, who happened to be Apollo's friend, Apollo pleaded the Fates to undo their work. Though they were often unmerciful, they replied that it was not in their power to do so; however, they promised that if someone took Admetus' place, then he would live. The king's wife, Alcestis, offered to take his place. But Heracles, who happened to be Admetus' guest at the time, rescued her from the Underworld, and Admetus an Alcestis were reunited.

See Also


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