The Three Fates: 3 Goddesses Of Greek Mythology Who Management All Mortal Life

Ancient History | April 2, 2021

The Three Fates: Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos, 1558–59. After Giulio Romano. Artist Giorgio Ghisi. (Heritage Artwork/Heritage Pictures by way of Getty Pictures)

When you bear in mind the 1997 animated Disney movie Hercules, you most likely recall the Fates, three outdated girls who decided how lengthy an individual lived by rolling out a string after which reducing it. Though lots of the characters in Hercules had been Disney innovations, others had been based mostly on Greek mythology, together with the Fates. Cartoon depictions apart, the Three Fates supplied a singular lens via which the individuals of Historical Greece understood dying, longevity, and future.

Who Had been The Three Fates?

The Fates, additionally known as the Moirai, had been three figures in Greek mythology who represented half of Zeus’s six children with Themis, the goddess of justice. (The opposite three had been collectively generally known as the Horai, or the Hours.) Their names had been Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos, and like their Disney counterparts, they had been in command of human future by way of balls of thread that decided how lengthy a human would reside. Clotho’s process was to spin the thread, figuring out who could be born and when; Lachesis measured the thread in line with how lengthy that new particular person would reside; and Atropos, the oldest, was answerable for reducing it when the time time. She additionally chosen the way during which the particular person died.

Bas reduction of Atropos reducing the thread of life. (Tom Oates/Wikimedia Commons)

The Origins Of The Three Fates

Figures much like the Fates, significantly Atropos, will be present in cultures that predate Historical Greece, particularly the Mycenaean people of Bronze Age Greece. In Mycenean tales, a spirit or demon named Moira who was related to the unpredictable nature of dying appeared when an individual died, and its title grew to become a typical time period for an individual’s justifiable share of one thing. For instance, after a hunt or battle, every member of the workforce was given their moira of the meat or loot, based mostly on their particular person contributions. The Mycenaean individuals additionally believed that every particular person had a moira of life that was given to them at start, and when your time was up, your time was up.

It is doubtless the Historical Greeks encountered tales of Moira, since many points of the Mycenaean faith lingered into the classical period, and certainly, Homer’s Iliad alludes to this perception when Apollo tries repeatedly to cease Patrocius from attacking the city of Troy, warning him that he could be “over his portion.” His Odyssey marks the primary time Moira will get pals, two unnamed helpers who spin the threads of life. From there, the Greeks adopted the idea of moira, which grew to become the Moirai, or the Fates, depicted as three particular person sisters.

The Three Fates of Hercules (1997). (The Walt Disney Firm)

The Graeae

Disney usually takes creative liberties with their movies, and Hercules isn’t any exception. It depicts the Fates as three outdated hags who share one eye between them, however whereas the Fates of Greek mythology do not show this odd characteristic, one other legendary threesome does. The Graeae, or the “grey ones,” had been a trio of aged sisters and witches named Enyo, Deino, and Pemphredo who not solely shared a single eye however a single tooth as nicely. Fortunately, deep frying hadn’t been invented yet, or they’d be critically lacking out. That is most related within the fantasy of Medusa, during which Perseus steals the Graeae’s collective eye to coerce them into revealing info he must kill Medusa. Greek heroes might get away with being inconceivably impolite.

Tags: Ancient Greece | disney | greek mythology

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Karen Harris


Karen left the world of educational, quitting her job as a school professor to jot down full-time. She spends her days together with her firefighter husband and 4 daughters on a interest farm with an assortment of animals, together with a goat named Atticus, a turkey named Gravy, and a hen named Chickaletta.

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