Thursday Myths & Legends 101: The Moirae (Fates)

All of humanity’s life, represented by a long, endless thread. Clotho, the first of the Fates, spun the thread onto her spindle, beginning that particular life. Lachesis used her measuring rod, allotting each person a certain life span, while Atropos used her ‘abhorred shears’  to cut that life, in any manner she saw fit.

This was how a person’s life course, or fate, was decided, according to Greek mythology. The Moirae, or Fates as they’re commonly referred to, were three spinsters who apportioned life length and death, and as such were given great honor (or perhaps even feared) by the Olympian gods themselves.

According to the tales, the Moirae came to see a child seven nights after its birth to determine its life course. They were often viewed as remorseless and unfeeling. Atropos’ Roman equivalent was Death itself, or Morta. They were often depicted as old crones or hags, which might be why being an old spinster is looked down and feared by young maidens in so many cultures.

Re-evaluating these mythic characters, I couldn’t help but think of Sleeping Beauty and Disney’s rendition involving three faeries who come to bless the child after her birth. Three is a very significant number in many cultures. Also, does anyone notice that touching the spindle is what ‘ends’ her life? Or puts her to sleep in this case? I definitely think they were touching a bit on the Fates mythos.

Anyone know of any good YA stories involving the Fates? The Thief, which I reviewed yesterday, had a nice nod to the Moirae in the form of a woman, Moira. Definitely worth a look.

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About Isabelle

Isabelle is a multi-published author who dabbles in 1950s romance, speculative science fiction, and more recently fantasy and YA. A twenty something dreamer who loves chocolate, romance novels, and heart wrenching movies, Isabelle is most comfortable on stage behind a microphone belting out her favorite karaoke tunes, or curled up in bed with a book and a cup of cocoa on a rainy night. View all posts by Isabelle

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