Study Guide

Fates

  • Profile

    The Moirae—often called the Fates in English—are the goddesses who decide the fate of all living things. No big deal. These three sisters usually appear as hideous old crones—think the Wicked Witch of the West, but uglier. Clotho is the youngest sister, and she is responsible for spinning the thread of life at a mortal's birth. The middle sister is Lachesis, who measures those life-threads and decides how long each one will be. Atropos, also called Aisa, is the oldest of the sisters; it's her job to take each mortal's life by snipping the thread with her scissors. Powerful much? Absolutely. Some say that not even Zeus can escape the webs these ladies spin.

    Basic Information

    Name

    The Moirae: Clotho, Lachesis, Atropos (Aisa)

    Nickname

    The Fates, the Parcae, the Fata, The Controllers

    Sex

    Female

    Current city

    Olympus

    Work & Education

    Occupation

    Um, being fate

    General Duties:


    Deciding everything that will happen to everyone who is born, including the moment and way in which they will they die. Yeah, don't get on our bad side.

    Division of Labor, Fate by Fate:


    Clotho: spins the first thread of life, causing birth
    Lachesis: measures the length of the thread of life
    Atropos (Aisa): cuts the thread of life, bringing death

    Education

    Spinning Wheel School of Weaving
    Delphi Institute of Divination (head mistresses)

    Beliefs

    Political views

    Us. We're in total control.

    Family & Friends (& Enemies)

    Parents

    Zeus and Themis, or maybe Nyx and Erebos

    Children

    We cause everyone to be born, so in a way everyone is our child—whom we later kill.

    Friends

    Eileithyia
    Thanatos
    The Erinyes (the Furies)

    Enemies

    Why bother?

    Relationships

    Relationship status

    Thoroughly single

    Interested in

    Obstetrics
    Thanatology
    Embalming
    Arachnology
    Everything that's ever happened, is happening, and will happen

    Favorites

    Quotations

    "The fates lead him who will—him who won't they drag."
    – Seneca

    "But blind to former as to future fate, what mortal knows his pre-existent state?"
    – Alexander Pope

    "Everything is lyrical in its ideal essence, tragic in its fate, and comic in its existence."
    – George Santayana

    "They sat together in the park
    As the evening sky grew dark
    She looked at him and he felt a spark tingle to his bones
    It was then he felt alone and wished that he'd gone straight
    And watched out for a simple twist of fate."
    – Bob Dylan

    Books

    Oedipus the King by Sophocles
    Macbeth by William Shakespeare
    For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
    Three Sisters by Anton Chekhov
    With a Tangled Skein by Piers Anthony
    Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
    Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett
    Moby Dick by Herman Melville
    Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
    One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
    Fairy Tales, just generally. We love them.

    Music

    God's Gonna Cut You Down by Johnny Cash
    Say My Name by Destiny's Child
    All Your Pretty Fates by the Veda Rays
    The Killing Moon by Echo and the Bunny Men
    Simple Twist of Fate by Bob Dylan
    Such Great Heights by the Postal Service
    Another One Bites the Dust by Queen
    The Sewing Machine from the Perils of Pauline
    My Death by David Bowie, covering Jaques Brel
    Paradise by Coldplay
    I Will Follow You Into the Dark by Death Cab for Cutie

    Movies

    The Golden Girls (TV show)
    Manos: The Hands of Fate
    Crash
    Serendipity
    Kismet
    A Simple Twist of Fate
    The Matrix
    Babies
    The Tree of Life
    Final Destination

    Activities & Interests

    Likes

    Tapestries
    Quilts
    Sewing Circles
    Birthing Rooms
    Hospices
    Tombstones

    Groups

    Mt. Olympus Sewing Circle
    The Triple Goddesses Club
    AARP
    Shuffleboard Fanatics

    • Spotter's Guide

      Whoa, you're looking for the Fates? You really might want to reconsider that. Those three ugly old ladies have a seriously nasty reputation. Their names are Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos, and it's their job to decide the life and death of everyone. Yep, everyone. Clotho spins the thread of life when you're born, Lachesis measures the thread's length, and Atropos snips it with her scissors when it's time for you to die. No matter how much you beg the Fates or try to fight against them, you have to do what they say. Even Zeus gets nervous around the Fates: he totally denies it, but the rumor mill says that even the king of the gods has to do what the Fates decree. And they're his daughters! So yeah, you might want to steer clear of them. Of course, it might not be such a big deal if you just go say hello. If it's meant to be, it's meant to be. Sooner or later, everyone has to meet their fate. At least that's what these ladies will tell you.

      Sex: Female
      Age: About as elderly as it gets
      Build: Misshapen
      Complexion: Very Pale
      Hair Color: Gray/White (sometimes red or blonde if we're feeling young and spritely)
      Facial Hair: Beards (sometimes)—stop laughing
      Scars/marks/tattoos: None
      Jewelry and accessories: Nah, we're too old for that stuff
      Clothing: Raggedy robes
      Armor: None
      Type of Weapon: Spindle, Thread, Scissors

      Typical Companions:

      Zeus
      Eileithyia
      Thanatos
      The Furies (the Erinyes)

      Known Hangouts:

      Nurseries
      Cemeteries
      Sewing Stores
      Delphi

    • Sightings

      Dec 20, 2019

      Oedipus the King by Sophocles

      This is pretty much the play about fate; though the Fates don't appear in the flesh, their threads are sewn all throughout this most tragic of tragedies.

      Dec 20, 2019

      The Metamorphoses by Ovid

      The sisters of fate make a cameo to prophesy the death of Meleager in Ovid's epic poem. Spoiler alert, ladies!

      Dec 20, 2019

      Macbeth by William Shakespeare

      Are the witchy Weird Sisters who prophesy Macbeth's rise and fall really the Fates in disguise? If not, they sure are a whole lot like them.

      Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

      For some reason, only two knitting women pop up to symbolically represent the three sisters in this famous book. What's that all about?

      Dec 20, 1982

      The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende

      The destiny-deciding Mora sisters in this novel are a whole lot like the Moirae gals—in more than just their names.

      With a Tangled Skein by Piers Anthony

      A woman named Niobe is selected to become an incarnation of Fate in this fantasy novel.

      Dec 20, 1997

      Hercules

      The Moirae turn up to belt out some tunes in this Disney-fied version of the life of Heracles.

      Dec 20, 2019

      Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief

      In this novel (beloved by Shmoop), the three sisters appear as old ladies knitting socks. Seems pretty tame!

      Dec 20, 2019

      God of War II

      In this bloody video game, The Fates meet their own fate at the hands of the vicious Kratos. Ah, irony.