Thursday, 27 October 2011
In Greek mythology The Moirai were the goddesses of fate and personified the inescapable destiny of man. They assigned to every person his or her fate or share in the scheme of things. Their name means "Parts." "Shares." or "Allotted Portions."
Klotho, whose name means "Spinner," spun the thread of life. Lakhesis, whose name means "Apportioner of Lots"--being derived from a word meaning to receive by lot--, measured the thread of life. Atropos (or Aisa), whose name means "She who cannot be turned," cut the thread of life.
At the birth of a man, the Moirai spun the thread of his future life, followed his steps, and directed the consequences of his actions according to the counsel of the gods. It was not an inflexible fate; Zeus, if he chose, had the power of saving even those who were already on the point of being seized by their fate. The Fates did not abruptly interfere in human affairs but availed themselves of intermediate causes, and determined the lot of mortals not absolutely, but only conditionally, even man himself, in his freedom was allowed to exercise a certain influence upon them. As man's fate terminated at his death, the goddesses of fate become the goddesses of death, Moirai Thanatoio.
The Moirai were independent, at the helm of necessity, directed fate, and watched that the fate assigned to every being by eternal laws might take its course without obstruction; and Zeus, as well as the other gods and man, had to submit to them. They assigned to the Erinyes, who inflicted the punishment for evil deeds, their proper functions; and with them they directed fate according to the laws of necessity.
As goddesses of birth, who spun the thread of life, and even prophesied the fate of the newly born, Eileithyia was their companion. As goddesses of fate they must necessarily have known the future, which at times they revealed, and were therefore prophetic deities. Their ministers were all the soothsayers and oracles.
As goddesses of death, they appeared together with the Keres and the infernal Erinyes.
The Moirai were described as ugly old women, sometimes lame. They were severe, inflexible and stern. Klotho carries a spindle or a roll (the book of ate), Lakhesis a staff with which she points to the horoscope on a globe, and Atropos a scroll, a wax tablet, a sundial, a pair of scales, or a cutting instrument. At other times the three were shown with staffs or sceptres, the symbols of dominion, and sometimes even with crowns. At the birth of each man they appeared spinning, measuring, and cutting the thread of life.
The Romans called the goddess Parcae and named the three Nona, Decima and Morta.