Definition of the Three Fates (Moirae)
Who were the Three Fates of Ancient Greek
mythology? The meaning and definition of
Three Fates are as follows: Definition of
The Three Fates
were the goddesses who were reputed to be the
personification of destiny, the weavers of
fate who determined when life began, when it
ended and all that happened in between. The names of the Three Fates were
Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos. Life is woven
by Clotho, measured by Lachesis and the
thread of life is cut by Atropos.
Picture of the Fates
Genealogy of the
Three Fates (Moirae)
According to most sources of Greek Mythology
the three Fates were the daughters of
Zeus, the king of the gods and and Themis,
one of the Titanides.
The primordial deities Chaos,
the first of all divinities and
the dark goddess of Night
are named in other sources, as are
the Titan Cronus
with Ananke, the goddess of
inevitability and the personification of
destiny, necessity and fate.
The children of Nyx and
Doom (Moros), Old Age (Geras),
Divine Retribution (Nemesis), Death and
Sleep (Thanatos and
Hypnos), Strife (Eris,
the goddess of Discord),
Keres and other personifications. There
was a link between the Moirae and the Tyche the
goddess of fortune and luck.
The family members and genealogy of the
Fates are detailed in the following family
tree, providing an overview of the
relationships between the Fates and some of the principle
Greek gods and goddesses of the Underworld.
Three Fates (Moirae)
The three goddesses accepted as
the Fates were the personification of
inevitability and fortune.
Each of the three Fates, the weavers of
fate, had specific tasks that they were
divided between them. Clotho spun the
thread, Lachesis measured it and Atropos cut
the thread. Their name means "Parts."
"Shares" or "Alottted Portions." The Three
Fates (the Moirae) were believed to appear
three nights after a child's birth to
determine the course of its life. As
goddesses of birth, they had the power to
prophesize the fate of the newly born, as
goddesses of fate they clearly knew the
future. Zeus was entitled the Leader of the
Fates, and the three goddesses sat in
attendance of his throne, presiding over the
sacred laws of heaven. They were the
distributors of good and bad fortune to
mortals and to nations. The three Fates were
also present at the birth of gods to declare
their divine privileges and functions.
Three Fates (Moirae) and the 'Death Fates'
Their was also a belief that a person's
'Ker' or life force developed with his
growth, either for good or evil. When the
ultimate fate of a mortal was about to be
decided, his 'Ker' was weighed in the
balance by the Death Fates, the hateful
goddesses of death called the
Keres, and, according to its
worth or worthlessness, life or death was
awarded to the mortal in question.
This concept originated in ancient Egyptian
beliefs in which souls, including the 'Ka'
were judged in the Hall of Two Truths where
the heart was weighed against the feather of
truth and their fate would be decided -
either entrance into the perfect afterlife
or to be sent to the Devourer of the Dead.
It is therefore evident that according to
the belief of the early Greeks, each
individual had it in his power, to some
extent, to shorten or prolong his own
existence and not totally reliant on the
judgement of the Fates.
Three Fates (Moirae) - the Underworld and
As goddesses of death, the Fates appear
together with the infernal goddesses called
the Furies (Erinnyes)
Hades the Underworld.
The Furies, also called the Erinyes, acted
as agents of the Fates (Moirai), exacting
the punishments decreed by the gods. The
Fates spent some of their time in the
Underworld, the province of Hades, the
god of the Underworld. It was here that
they kept the Archives of the Fates that
contained the complete records of all
mortals and events, on indestructible
tablets of brass and iron. The wicked and
evil dead were sent to be tormented by the
Tartarus, a dark abyss, below the
Underground - the equivalent of Hell. The
Fates (Moirai) only allowed the good to pass
and the Elysian Fields.