Moirae

Moirae

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The Moirae, Moerae or Moirai (in Greek
Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek is the stage of the Greek language in the periods spanning the times c. 9th–6th centuries BC, , c. 5th–4th centuries BC , and the c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD of ancient Greece and the ancient world; being predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek...

  – the "apportioners", often called The Fates), in Greek mythology
Greek mythology
Greek mythology is the body of myths and legends belonging to the ancient Greeks, concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world, and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. They were a part of religion in ancient Greece...

, were the white-robed incarnations of destiny
Destiny
Destiny or fate refers to a predetermined course of events. It may be conceived as a predetermined future, whether in general or of an individual...

 (Roman
Roman mythology
Roman mythology is the body of traditional stories pertaining to ancient Rome's legendary origins and religious system, as represented in the literature and visual arts of the Romans...

 equivalent: Parcae
Parcae
thumb|#00px|Early 16th-century [[millefleur tapestry]] depicting the Three Fates under their Greek namesIn Roman mythology, the Parcae were the personifications of destiny, often called The Fates in English. Their Greek equivalent were the Moirae. They controlled the metaphorical thread of life of...

, euphemistically the "sparing ones", or Fata; also equivalent to the Germanic
Germanic mythology
Germanic mythology is a comprehensive term for myths associated with historical Germanic paganism, including Norse mythology, Anglo-Saxon mythology, Continental Germanic mythology, and other versions of the mythologies of the Germanic peoples...

 Norns
Norns
The Norns in Norse mythology are female beings who rule the destiny of gods and men, a kind of dísir comparable to the Fates in classical mythology....

). Their number became fixed at three. The Greek word moira literally means a part or portion of the whole, and by extension one's portion in life or destiny, which consisted of bad and good moments that were distributed by the Fates, They controlled the metaphorical thread of life of every mortal from birth to death, and it was impossible for anyone to act over his own destiny.

In the Homeric poems Moira or Aisa (Fate
Fate
Fate commonly refers to destiny, a predetermined course of events.Fate may also refer to:* Moirae or Fates, in Greek mythology* Time and fate deities, personifications of time and human fate in polytheistic religions- Film and television :...

) represents a power related with the limit and end of life, and is acting in parallel with the gods.Later in the Theogony
Theogony
The Theogony is a poem by Hesiod describing the origins and genealogies of the gods of the ancient Greeks, composed circa 700 BC...

 of Hesiod
Hesiod
Hesiod was a Greek oral poet generally thought by scholars to have been active between 750 and 650 BC, around the same time as Homer. His is the first European poetry in which the poet regards himself as a topic, an individual with a distinctive role to play. Ancient authors credited him and...

 the Moirae represent a power acting over the gods. In Greek mythology
Mythology
The term mythology can refer either to the study of myths, or to a body or collection of myths. As examples, comparative mythology is the study of connections between myths from different cultures, whereas Greek mythology is the body of myths from ancient Greece...

 they are daughters of Zeus
Zeus
In the ancient Greek religion, Zeus was the "Father of Gods and men" who ruled the Olympians of Mount Olympus as a father ruled the family. He was the god of sky and thunder in Greek mythology. His Roman counterpart is Jupiter and his Etruscan counterpart is Tinia.Zeus was the child of Cronus...

 and Themis
Themis
Themis is an ancient Greek Titaness. She is described as "of good counsel", and is the embodiment of divine order, law, and custom. Themis means "divine law" rather than human ordinance, literally "that which is put in place", from the verb τίθημι, títhēmi, "to put"...

, who was the embodiment of divine order, social order and law, Later in Orphic cosmogony, they are daughters of the primeval goddess Ananke
Ananke (mythology)
In Greek mythology, Ananke, also spelled Anangke, Anance, or Anagke , was the personification of destiny, necessity and fate, depicted as holding a spindle. She marks the beginning of the cosmos, along with Chronos...

, "necessity".

In earliest Greek philosophy
Greek philosophy
Ancient Greek philosophy arose in the 6th century BCE and continued through the Hellenistic period, at which point Ancient Greece was incorporated in the Roman Empire...

, Anaximander
Anaximander
Anaximander was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher who lived in Miletus, a city of Ionia; Milet in modern Turkey. He belonged to the Milesian school and learned the teachings of his master Thales...

 combines these mythical ideas with the balancing of opposite powers as central to reality. The goddess Dike
Dike (mythology)
In ancient Greek culture, Dikē was the spirit of moral order and fair judgement based on immemorial custom, in the sense of socially enforced norms and conventional rules. According to Hesiod In ancient Greek culture, Dikē (Greek: Δίκη, English translation: "justice") was the spirit of moral...

 (justice, divine retribution), keeps the order and sets a limit to any actions.

The concept of Moira conformed with the Greek desire to discern an order in the univese, to which even the gods have to comply. The ancient Greek writers called this power Moira (Fate
Fate
Fate commonly refers to destiny, a predetermined course of events.Fate may also refer to:* Moirae or Fates, in Greek mythology* Time and fate deities, personifications of time and human fate in polytheistic religions- Film and television :...

), Ananke
Ananke (mythology)
In Greek mythology, Ananke, also spelled Anangke, Anance, or Anagke , was the personification of destiny, necessity and fate, depicted as holding a spindle. She marks the beginning of the cosmos, along with Chronos...

 (necessity), or combined both in a scheme.

Etymology


The Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek is the stage of the Greek language in the periods spanning the times c. 9th–6th centuries BC, , c. 5th–4th centuries BC , and the c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD of ancient Greece and the ancient world; being predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek...

 word moira (μοίρα) meant a portion or lot of the whole, related to meros, "part, lot" and moros, "fate, doom", Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 meritum, "dessert, reward" , English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 merit, derived from the PIE
Pie
A pie is a baked dish which is usually made of a pastry dough casing that covers or completely contains a filling of various sweet or savoury ingredients....

 root *(s)mer, "to allot, assign". It was used for the portion of the distributed land, division of people, distribution of booty, and for one's portion in life, lot, destiny. In Homer
Homer
In the Western classical tradition Homer , is the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and is revered as the greatest ancient Greek epic poet. These epics lie at the beginning of the Western canon of literature, and have had an enormous influence on the history of literature.When he lived is...

 moira is the power of Fate
Fate
Fate commonly refers to destiny, a predetermined course of events.Fate may also refer to:* Moirae or Fates, in Greek mythology* Time and fate deities, personifications of time and human fate in polytheistic religions- Film and television :...

 or death , but it also means that which is meet and right. (Iliad
Iliad
The Iliad is an epic poem in dactylic hexameters, traditionally attributed to Homer. Set during the Trojan War, the ten-year siege of the city of Troy by a coalition of Greek states, it tells of the battles and events during the weeks of a quarrel between King Agamemnon and the warrior Achilles...

 16.387: "according to fate": in order, rightly) Moirae means shares or alloted portions. Eventually, the word daemon, which is the personification of a certain power between gods and men came to be similar with the word moira.

The word nomos, "law", may have meant originally a portion or lot, as in the verb nemein, "to distribute", and thus "natural lot" came to mean "natural law". The word dike, "justice", conveyed the notion that someone should stay within his own boundaries respecting the ones of his neighbour. If someone broke his boundaries, thus getting more than his ordained part, then he would be punished. By extension moira was one's portion or part in destiny which consisted of good and bad moments as it was predetermined by the Moirae (Fates) and it was impossible for anyone to get more than his ordained part. In modern Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 the word came to mean "destiny" (μοίρα or ειμαρμένη).

Kismet
Destiny
Destiny or fate refers to a predetermined course of events. It may be conceived as a predetermined future, whether in general or of an individual...

, the predetermined course of events in Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

 religion seems to have a similar etymology and function. It means Fate
Fate
Fate commonly refers to destiny, a predetermined course of events.Fate may also refer to:* Moirae or Fates, in Greek mythology* Time and fate deities, personifications of time and human fate in polytheistic religions- Film and television :...

 or destiny in the Indo-Aryan
Indo-Aryan languages
The Indo-Aryan languages constitutes a branch of the Indo-Iranian languages, itself a branch of the Indo-European language family...

 Urdu
Urdu
Urdu is a register of the Hindustani language that is identified with Muslims in South Asia. It belongs to the Indo-European family. Urdu is the national language and lingua franca of Pakistan. It is also widely spoken in some regions of India, where it is one of the 22 scheduled languages and an...

 language. In Persian
Persian language
Persian is an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and countries which historically came under Persian influence...

 qesmat, in Arabic qisma, "lot", derived from qasama, "to divide, allot".

The three Moirae


When they were three, the three Moirae were:
  • Clotho
    Clotho
    Clotho is one of the Three Fates or Moirae, in ancient Greek mythology. Her Roman equivalent is Nona. Clotho was responsible for spinning the thread of human life. She also made major decisions, such as when a person was born, thus in effect controlling people's lives...

    (icon, Greek klɔːˈtʰɔː – "spinner") spun the thread of life from her distaff onto her spindle. Her Roman equivalent was Nona, (the 'Ninth'), who was originally a goddess called upon in the ninth month of pregnancy
    Pregnancy
    Pregnancy refers to the fertilization and development of one or more offspring, known as a fetus or embryo, in a woman's uterus. In a pregnancy, there can be multiple gestations, as in the case of twins or triplets...

    .
  • Lachesis
    Lachesis (mythology)
    In Greek mythology, Lachesis was the second of the Three Fates, or Moirae, also known as the Triple Moon Goddesses or the Lunar Dieties. Each phase of the moon representing each of the fates - Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos...

    (icon, Greek [ˈlakʰesis] – "allotter" or drawer of lots) measured the thread of life allotted to each person with her measuring rod. Her Roman equivalent was Decima
    Decima (mythology)
    In Roman mythology, Decima was one of the Parcae, or the Fates. She measured the thread of life with her rod. She was also revered as the goddess of childbirth. Her Greek equivalent was Lachesis....

    (the 'Tenth').
  • Atropos
    Atropos
    Atropos or Aisa , in Greek mythology, was one of the three Moirae, goddesses of fate and destiny. Her Roman equivalent was Morta.Atropos or Aisa was the oldest of the Three Fates, and was known as the "inflexible" or "inevitable." It was Atropos who chose the mechanism of death and ended the life...

    (icon, Greek [ˈatropos] – "inexorable" or "inevitable", literally "unturning", sometimes called Aisa) was the cutter of the thread of life. She chose the manner of each person's death; and when their time was come, she cut their life-thread with "her abhorred shears". Her Roman equivalent was Morta ('Death').


( Clotho
Clotho
Clotho is one of the Three Fates or Moirae, in ancient Greek mythology. Her Roman equivalent is Nona. Clotho was responsible for spinning the thread of human life. She also made major decisions, such as when a person was born, thus in effect controlling people's lives...

 colum retinet, Lachesis
Lachesis (mythology)
In Greek mythology, Lachesis was the second of the Three Fates, or Moirae, also known as the Triple Moon Goddesses or the Lunar Dieties. Each phase of the moon representing each of the fates - Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos...

 net, Atropos
Atropos
Atropos or Aisa , in Greek mythology, was one of the three Moirae, goddesses of fate and destiny. Her Roman equivalent was Morta.Atropos or Aisa was the oldest of the Three Fates, and was known as the "inflexible" or "inevitable." It was Atropos who chose the mechanism of death and ended the life...

 occut).

In the Republic
Republic
A republic is a form of government in which the people, or some significant portion of them, have supreme control over the government and where offices of state are elected or chosen by elected people. In modern times, a common simplified definition of a republic is a government where the head of...

 of Plato
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

, the three Moirae sing in unison with the music of the Seirenes. Lachesis
Lachesis (mythology)
In Greek mythology, Lachesis was the second of the Three Fates, or Moirae, also known as the Triple Moon Goddesses or the Lunar Dieties. Each phase of the moon representing each of the fates - Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos...

 sings the things that were, Clotho
Clotho
Clotho is one of the Three Fates or Moirae, in ancient Greek mythology. Her Roman equivalent is Nona. Clotho was responsible for spinning the thread of human life. She also made major decisions, such as when a person was born, thus in effect controlling people's lives...

 the things that are, and Atropos
Atropos
Atropos or Aisa , in Greek mythology, was one of the three Moirae, goddesses of fate and destiny. Her Roman equivalent was Morta.Atropos or Aisa was the oldest of the Three Fates, and was known as the "inflexible" or "inevitable." It was Atropos who chose the mechanism of death and ended the life...

 the things that are to be. Pindar
Pindar
Pindar , was an Ancient Greek lyric poet. Of the canonical nine lyric poets of ancient Greece, his work is the best preserved. Quintilian described him as "by far the greatest of the nine lyric poets, in virtue of his inspired magnificence, the beauty of his thoughts and figures, the rich...

 in his Hymn to the Fates, holds them in high honour.He calls them to send the Hours ( Lawfulness, Right and Peace) to stop the internal civil strife:
Listen Fates, who sit nearest of gods to the throne of Zeus,
and weave with shuttles of adamant,
inescapable devices for councels of every kind beyond counting,
Aisa
Atropos
Atropos or Aisa , in Greek mythology, was one of the three Moirae, goddesses of fate and destiny. Her Roman equivalent was Morta.Atropos or Aisa was the oldest of the Three Fates, and was known as the "inflexible" or "inevitable." It was Atropos who chose the mechanism of death and ended the life...

, Clotho
Clotho
Clotho is one of the Three Fates or Moirae, in ancient Greek mythology. Her Roman equivalent is Nona. Clotho was responsible for spinning the thread of human life. She also made major decisions, such as when a person was born, thus in effect controlling people's lives...

 and Lachesis
Lachesis (mythology)
In Greek mythology, Lachesis was the second of the Three Fates, or Moirae, also known as the Triple Moon Goddesses or the Lunar Dieties. Each phase of the moon representing each of the fates - Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos...

,
fine-armed daughters of Night
Nyx
In Greek mythology, Nyx was the primordial goddess of the night. A shadowy figure, Nyx stood at or near the beginning of creation, and was the mother of personified gods such as Hypnos and Thánatos...

,
hearken to our prayers, all-terrible goddesses,
of sky and earth.
Send us rose-bossomed Lawfulness,
and her sisters on glittering thrones,
Right and crowned Peace, and make this city
forget the misfortunes which lie heavily on her heart

Origins


In ancient times caves were used for burial purposes in eastern Mediterranean
Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Anatolia and Europe, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant...

, in conjuction with underground shrines or temples. The priests and the priestesses exerted considerable influence upon the world of the living. Births are also recorded in such shrines, and the Greek
Greeks
The Greeks, also known as the Hellenes , are a nation and ethnic group native to Greece, Cyprus and neighboring regions. They also form a significant diaspora, with Greek communities established around the world....

 legend of conception and birth in the tomb – as in the story of Danae
Danaë
In Greek mythology, Danaë was a daughter of King Acrisius of Argos and Eurydice of Argos. She was the mother of Perseus by Zeus. She was sometimes credited with founding the city of Ardea in Latium....

- is based on the ancient belief that the dead know the future. Such caves were the caves of Ida
Ida
Ida or IDA may refer to:* Ida , a female name* Ida of Bernicia , 6th Century king in Northern England* Ida , a Vedic goddess- Science :* IDA*, Iterative deepening depth-first search algorithm...

 and Dikte mountains in Crete
Crete
Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and one of the thirteen administrative regions of Greece. It forms a significant part of the economy and cultural heritage of Greece while retaining its own local cultural traits...

, where myth situates the birth of Zeus
Zeus
In the ancient Greek religion, Zeus was the "Father of Gods and men" who ruled the Olympians of Mount Olympus as a father ruled the family. He was the god of sky and thunder in Greek mythology. His Roman counterpart is Jupiter and his Etruscan counterpart is Tinia.Zeus was the child of Cronus...

 and other gods, and the cave of Eileithyia near Knossos
Knossos
Knossos , also known as Labyrinth, or Knossos Palace, is the largest Bronze Age archaeological site on Crete and probably the ceremonial and political centre of the Minoan civilization and culture. The palace appears as a maze of workrooms, living spaces, and store rooms close to a central square...

. The relative Minoan
Minoan civilization
The Minoan civilization was a Bronze Age civilization that arose on the island of Crete and flourished from approximately the 27th century BC to the 15th century BC. It was rediscovered at the beginning of the 20th century through the work of the British archaeologist Arthur Evans...

 goddesses were named Diktynna
Britomartis
Britomartis , was the Minoan goddess of mountains and hunting. She is among the Minoan goddess figures that passed through the Mycenaeans' culture into classical Greek mythology, with transformations that are unclear in both transferrals...

, who was a mountain nymph
Nymph
A nymph in Greek mythology is a female minor nature deity typically associated with a particular location or landform. Different from gods, nymphs are generally regarded as divine spirits who animate nature, and are usually depicted as beautiful, young nubile maidens who love to dance and sing;...

 of hunting, and Eileithyia who was the goddess of childbirth.

It seems that in Pre-Greek religion Aisa was a daemon. In Mycenean religion Aisa or Moira was originally an abstract power related with the limit and end of life. At the moment of birth she spins the destiny, because birth ordains death.Later Aisa is not alone, but she is accompanied by the "Spinners", who are the personifications of Fate. The act of spinning is also associated with the gods, who at birth and at marriage don’t spin the thread of life, but single facts like destruction, return or good fortune. Everything which has been spun must be winded on the spindle, and this was considered a cloth, like a net or loop which captured man. Invisible bonds and knots could be controlled from a loom, and twining was a magic art used by the magicians to harm a person, and control his individual fate. Some similar ideas appear in Norse mythology
Norse mythology
Norse mythology, a subset of Germanic mythology, is the overall term for the myths, legends and beliefs about supernatural beings of Norse pagans. It flourished prior to the Christianization of Scandinavia, during the Early Middle Ages, and passed into Nordic folklore, with some aspects surviving...

, "If a lady loosened a knot in the woof, she could liberate the leg of her hero. But if she tied a knot, she could stop the enemy from moving. ":Harrison, D. & Svensson, K. (2007): Vikingaliv. Fälth & Hässler, Värnamo. P. 72 ISBN 978-91-27-35725-9Harrison & and in Greek folklore. The appearance of the gods and the Moirae may be related with the fairy tale motif, which is common in many IE sagas, and also in Greek folklore. The fairies appear besides the cradle of the newborn child, and bring gifts to him.

The services of the temples were performed by old women who were physically mishappen though intellectually superior persons, giving rise to the fear of witches and of the mishappen. They might be considered representations of the Moirae, who belonged to the underworld, but secretly guided the lifes of those in the upperworld. Their power could be sustained by witchcraft and oracles. In Greek mythology
Greek mythology
Greek mythology is the body of myths and legends belonging to the ancient Greeks, concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world, and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. They were a part of religion in ancient Greece...

 the Moirai at birth are accompanied by Eileithyia. At the birth of Hercules
Hercules
Hercules is the Roman name for Greek demigod Heracles, son of Zeus , and the mortal Alcmene...

  they use together a magic art, to free the newborn from any "bonds" and "knots".

Spiders seem to have the ability to create their own worlds, and web-spinning caused the association of the spiders with creation myths.

The Homeric Moira


Much of the Mycenean
Mycenaean Greece
Mycenaean Greece was a cultural period of Bronze Age Greece taking its name from the archaeological site of Mycenae in northeastern Argolis, in the Peloponnese of southern Greece. Athens, Pylos, Thebes, and Tiryns are also important Mycenaean sites...

 religion survived into classical Greece
Classical Greece
Classical Greece was a 200 year period in Greek culture lasting from the 5th through 4th centuries BC. This classical period had a powerful influence on the Roman Empire and greatly influenced the foundation of Western civilizations. Much of modern Western politics, artistic thought, such as...

 , but it is not known to what extent Greek religious belief is Mycenean, nor how much is a product of the Greek Dark Ages
Greek Dark Ages
The Greek Dark Age or Ages also known as Geometric or Homeric Age are terms which have regularly been used to refer to the period of Greek history from the presumed Dorian invasion and end of the Mycenaean Palatial civilization around 1200 BC, to the first signs of the Greek city-states in the 9th...

 or later. M.Finley   detected only few authentic Mycenean beliefs in the eighth-century Homeric world. The religion which later the Greeks considered Hellenic
Greeks
The Greeks, also known as the Hellenes , are a nation and ethnic group native to Greece, Cyprus and neighboring regions. They also form a significant diaspora, with Greek communities established around the world....

, embodies a paradox. Though the world is dominated by a divine power bestowed in different ways on men, nothing but "darkness" lay ahead . Life was frail and unsubstantial, and man was like a shadow in a dream.

In the Homeric poems the words moira, aisa, moros mean "portion, part". Originally they didn’t indicate a power which leaded destiny, and must be considered to include the "ascertainment" or "proof". By extention Moira is the portion in glory , happiness, mishappenings, death ( μοίρα θανάτοιο: destiny of death) which are unexpected events . The unexpected events were usually attributed to daemons, who appeared in special occurrences. In that regard Moira was later considered an agent, like the daemon of Pre-Greek religion.

People believed that their portion in destiny was something similar with their portion in boote , which was distributed according to their descent, and traditional rules. It was possible to get more than their ordained portion (moira), but they had to face the severe consequencies, because their action was "over moira" (υπέρ μοίραν:over the portion). It may be considered that they "broke the order". The most certain order in human lifes is that every human should die, and this was determined by Aisa or Moira at the moment of birth. The Myceneans
Mycenae
Mycenae is an archaeological site in Greece, located about 90 km south-west of Athens, in the north-eastern Peloponnese. Argos is 11 km to the south; Corinth, 48 km to the north...

  believed that what comes should come (fatalism
Fatalism
Fatalism is a philosophical doctrine emphasizing the subjugation of all events or actions to fate.Fatalism generally refers to several of the following ideas:...

), and this was considered rightly oferred. ( according to fate: in order). If someone died in battle, he would exist like a shadow in the gloomy space of the underworld.

The kingdom of Moira, is the kingdom of the limit and the end. In a passage in Ilias
ILIAS
ILIAS is an open source web-based learning management system . It supports learning content management and tools for collaboration, communication, evaluation and assessment...

, Apollo
Apollo
Apollo is one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in Greek and Roman mythology...

 tries three times to stop Patroclus
Patroclus
In Greek mythology, as recorded in the Iliad by Homer, Patroclus, or Patroklos , was the son of Menoetius, grandson of Actor, King of Opus, and was Achilles' beloved comrade and brother-in-arms....

 in front of the walls of Troy
Troy
Troy was a city, both factual and legendary, located in northwest Anatolia in what is now Turkey, southeast of the Dardanelles and beside Mount Ida...

, warning him that it is "over his portion" to sack the city. Aisa (moira) seems to set a limit to the most vigorous men's actions.

Moira is a power acting in parallel with the gods, and even they could not change the destiny which was predetermined. In Ilias
ILIAS
ILIAS is an open source web-based learning management system . It supports learning content management and tools for collaboration, communication, evaluation and assessment...

 Zeus
Zeus
In the ancient Greek religion, Zeus was the "Father of Gods and men" who ruled the Olympians of Mount Olympus as a father ruled the family. He was the god of sky and thunder in Greek mythology. His Roman counterpart is Jupiter and his Etruscan counterpart is Tinia.Zeus was the child of Cronus...

 knows that his dearest Sarpedon
Sarpedon
In Greek mythology, Sarpedon referred to at least three different people.-Son of Zeus and Europa:The first Sarpedon was a son of Zeus and Europa, and brother to Minos and Rhadamanthys. He was raised by the king Asterion and then, banished by Minos, his rival in love for the young Miletus, he...

 will be killed by Patroclus
Patroclus
In Greek mythology, as recorded in the Iliad by Homer, Patroclus, or Patroklos , was the son of Menoetius, grandson of Actor, King of Opus, and was Achilles' beloved comrade and brother-in-arms....

, but he cannot save him. In the famous scene of Kerostasia
Weighing of souls
The psychostasia, Greek 'weighing of souls', is a method of divine determination of fate, which persists from the Iliad through to christian theology....

  , Zeus
Zeus
In the ancient Greek religion, Zeus was the "Father of Gods and men" who ruled the Olympians of Mount Olympus as a father ruled the family. He was the god of sky and thunder in Greek mythology. His Roman counterpart is Jupiter and his Etruscan counterpart is Tinia.Zeus was the child of Cronus...

  the chief-deity of the Myceneans
Mycenae
Mycenae is an archaeological site in Greece, located about 90 km south-west of Athens, in the north-eastern Peloponnese. Argos is 11 km to the south; Corinth, 48 km to the north...

 appears as the guider of destiny, and he decides that Hector
Hector
In Greek mythology, Hectōr , or Hektōr, is a Trojan prince and the greatest fighter for Troy in the Trojan War. As the first-born son of King Priam and Queen Hecuba, a descendant of Dardanus, who lived under Mount Ida, and of Tros, the founder of Troy, he was a prince of the royal house and the...

 must die, according to his aisa (destiny). His decision seems to be independent from his will, and is not related with any "moral purpose". His attitude is explained by Achilleus to Priam
Priam
Priam was the king of Troy during the Trojan War and youngest son of Laomedon. Modern scholars derive his name from the Luwian compound Priimuua, which means "exceptionally courageous".- Marriage and issue :...

 , in a parable of two jars at the door of Zeus , one of which contains good things, and the other evil. Zeus gives a mixture to some men, to others only evil and such are driven by hunger over the earth . This was the old "heroic outlook".

The personification of Moira appears in the newer parts of the epos. In Odyssey
Odyssey
The Odyssey is one of two major ancient Greek epic poems attributed to Homer. It is, in part, a sequel to the Iliad, the other work ascribed to Homer. The poem is fundamental to the modern Western canon, and is the second—the Iliad being the first—extant work of Western literature...

 she is accompanied by the "Spinners", the personifications of Fate, who don’t have separate names. Moira seems to spin the predetermined course of events. Agamemnon
Agamemnon
In Greek mythology, Agamemnon was the son of King Atreus and Queen Aerope of Mycenae, the brother of Menelaus, the husband of Clytemnestra, and the father of Electra and Orestes. Mythical legends make him the king of Mycenae or Argos, thought to be different names for the same area...

 claims that
he is not responsible for his arrogance. He took the the prize of Achilleus, because Zeus
Zeus
In the ancient Greek religion, Zeus was the "Father of Gods and men" who ruled the Olympians of Mount Olympus as a father ruled the family. He was the god of sky and thunder in Greek mythology. His Roman counterpart is Jupiter and his Etruscan counterpart is Tinia.Zeus was the child of Cronus...

 and Moira predetermined his decision. In the last section of Ilias
ILIAS
ILIAS is an open source web-based learning management system . It supports learning content management and tools for collaboration, communication, evaluation and assessment...

 , Moira is the "mighty fate" (μοίρα κραταιά:moira krataia) who leads destiny and the course of events. Thetis
Thetis
Silver-footed Thetis , disposer or "placer" , is encountered in Greek mythology mostly as a sea nymph or known as the goddess of water, one of the fifty Nereids, daughters of the ancient one of the seas with shape-shifting abilities who survives in the historical vestiges of most later Greek myths...

 the mother of Achilleus warns him that he will not live long because mighty fate stands hard by him, therefore he must give to Priam
Priam
Priam was the king of Troy during the Trojan War and youngest son of Laomedon. Modern scholars derive his name from the Luwian compound Priimuua, which means "exceptionally courageous".- Marriage and issue :...

 the corpse of Hector
Hector
In Greek mythology, Hectōr , or Hektōr, is a Trojan prince and the greatest fighter for Troy in the Trojan War. As the first-born son of King Priam and Queen Hecuba, a descendant of Dardanus, who lived under Mount Ida, and of Tros, the founder of Troy, he was a prince of the royal house and the...

. At Hector
Hector
In Greek mythology, Hectōr , or Hektōr, is a Trojan prince and the greatest fighter for Troy in the Trojan War. As the first-born son of King Priam and Queen Hecuba, a descendant of Dardanus, who lived under Mount Ida, and of Tros, the founder of Troy, he was a prince of the royal house and the...

’s birth mighty fate predetermined that his corpse would be devoured by dogs after his death, and Hecabe
Hecabe
Hecabe can refer to:* Hecabe, Latin Hecuba, a Trojan queen, wife of Priam and mother of Hector.* An orchid related to the genus Phaius....

 is crying desperately asking for revenge.

Zeus and the Moirae



In the Homeric poems Moira, who is almost always one, is acting independently from the gods. Only Zeus
Zeus
In the ancient Greek religion, Zeus was the "Father of Gods and men" who ruled the Olympians of Mount Olympus as a father ruled the family. He was the god of sky and thunder in Greek mythology. His Roman counterpart is Jupiter and his Etruscan counterpart is Tinia.Zeus was the child of Cronus...

, the chief sky-deity of the Myceneans is close to Moira, and in a passage he is the personification of this abstract power. Using a weighing scale
Weighing scale
A weighing scale is a measuring instrument for determining the weight or mass of an object. A spring scale measures weight by the distance a spring deflects under its load...

 (balance) Zeus weighs Hector's
Hector
In Greek mythology, Hectōr , or Hektōr, is a Trojan prince and the greatest fighter for Troy in the Trojan War. As the first-born son of King Priam and Queen Hecuba, a descendant of Dardanus, who lived under Mount Ida, and of Tros, the founder of Troy, he was a prince of the royal house and the...

 "lot of death" (Ker
Keres (mythology)
In Greek mythology, the Keres were female death-spirits. The Keres were daughters of Nyx, and as such the sisters of Fate , Doom , Death and Sleep , Strife , Old Age , Divine Retribution , Charon, and other personifications...

) against the one of Achilleus. Hector's lot weighs down, and he dies according to Fate
Fate
Fate commonly refers to destiny, a predetermined course of events.Fate may also refer to:* Moirae or Fates, in Greek mythology* Time and fate deities, personifications of time and human fate in polytheistic religions- Film and television :...

. Zeus appears as the guider of destiny, who gives everyone the right portion.

In a Mycenean vase, Zeus holds a weighing scale
Weighing scale
A weighing scale is a measuring instrument for determining the weight or mass of an object. A spring scale measures weight by the distance a spring deflects under its load...

  (balance) in front of two warriors, indicating that he is measuring their destiny before the battle. The belief (fatalism
Fatalism
Fatalism is a philosophical doctrine emphasizing the subjugation of all events or actions to fate.Fatalism generally refers to several of the following ideas:...

) was that if they die in battle, they must die, and this was rightly oferred ( according to fate).

In Theogony
Theogony
The Theogony is a poem by Hesiod describing the origins and genealogies of the gods of the ancient Greeks, composed circa 700 BC...

 the Moirae are daughters of the primeval goddess, Nyx ("Night"), and they represent a power acting over the gods. In another passage probably from a different period, they are daughters of Zeus
Zeus
In the ancient Greek religion, Zeus was the "Father of Gods and men" who ruled the Olympians of Mount Olympus as a father ruled the family. He was the god of sky and thunder in Greek mythology. His Roman counterpart is Jupiter and his Etruscan counterpart is Tinia.Zeus was the child of Cronus...

 who gives them the greatest honour, and Themis
Themis
Themis is an ancient Greek Titaness. She is described as "of good counsel", and is the embodiment of divine order, law, and custom. Themis means "divine law" rather than human ordinance, literally "that which is put in place", from the verb τίθημι, títhēmi, "to put"...

, who was the embodiment of divine order, social order and law.
Even the gods feared the Moirae or Fate
Fate
Fate commonly refers to destiny, a predetermined course of events.Fate may also refer to:* Moirae or Fates, in Greek mythology* Time and fate deities, personifications of time and human fate in polytheistic religions- Film and television :...

, which according to Herodotus
Herodotus
Herodotus was an ancient Greek historian who was born in Halicarnassus, Caria and lived in the 5th century BC . He has been called the "Father of History", and was the first historian known to collect his materials systematically, test their accuracy to a certain extent and arrange them in a...

 a god couldn't escape. The Pythian priestess at Delphi
Delphi
Delphi is both an archaeological site and a modern town in Greece on the south-western spur of Mount Parnassus in the valley of Phocis.In Greek mythology, Delphi was the site of the Delphic oracle, the most important oracle in the classical Greek world, and a major site for the worship of the god...

 once admitted, that Zeus
Zeus
In the ancient Greek religion, Zeus was the "Father of Gods and men" who ruled the Olympians of Mount Olympus as a father ruled the family. He was the god of sky and thunder in Greek mythology. His Roman counterpart is Jupiter and his Etruscan counterpart is Tinia.Zeus was the child of Cronus...

 was also subject to their power, though no classic writing clarifies as to what exact extent the lives of immortals were affected by the whims of the Fates. It is to be expected that the relationship of Zeus and the Moirae was not immutable over the centuries.In either case in antiquity we can see a feeling towards a notion of an order to which even the gods have to conform, and which removes any imputation of irresponsibility or personal whim in the governance of the universe. Simonides
Simonides
* Simonides of Ceos, , a lyric poet* Semonides of Amorgos, an iambic poet* Flavius Simonides Agrippa, son of Roman Jewish Historian Josephus* Constantine Simonides, 19th-century forger of 'ancient' manuscripts...

 names this power Ananke
Ananke (mythology)
In Greek mythology, Ananke, also spelled Anangke, Anance, or Anagke , was the personification of destiny, necessity and fate, depicted as holding a spindle. She marks the beginning of the cosmos, along with Chronos...

 (necessity) (the mother of the Moirae in Orphic cosmogony) and says that even the gods don't fight against it. Aeschylus
Aeschylus
Aeschylus was the first of the three ancient Greek tragedians whose work has survived, the others being Sophocles and Euripides, and is often described as the father of tragedy. His name derives from the Greek word aiskhos , meaning "shame"...

 combines Fate
Fate
Fate commonly refers to destiny, a predetermined course of events.Fate may also refer to:* Moirae or Fates, in Greek mythology* Time and fate deities, personifications of time and human fate in polytheistic religions- Film and television :...

 and necessity in a scheme, and claims that even Zeus cannot alter which is ordained.

A supposed epithet
Zeus Moiragetes, meaning "Zeus Leader of the Moirae" was inferred by Pausanias
Pausanias (geographer)
Pausanias was a Greek traveler and geographer of the 2nd century AD, who lived in the times of Hadrian, Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius. He is famous for his Description of Greece , a lengthy work that describes ancient Greece from firsthand observations, and is a crucial link between classical...

 from an inscription he saw in the 2nd century AD at Olympia
Olympia, Greece
Olympia , a sanctuary of ancient Greece in Elis, is known for having been the site of the Olympic Games in classical times, comparable in importance to the Pythian Games held in Delphi. Both games were held every Olympiad , the Olympic Games dating back possibly further than 776 BC...

: "As you go to the starting-point for the chariot-race there is an altar with an inscription
to the Bringer of Fate. This is plainly a surname of Zeus, who knows the affairs of men, all that the Fates give them, and all that is not destined for them." At the Temple of Zeus at Megara
Megara
Megara is an ancient city in Attica, Greece. It lies in the northern section of the Isthmus of Corinth opposite the island of Salamis, which belonged to Megara in archaic times, before being taken by Athens. Megara was one of the four districts of Attica, embodied in the four mythic sons of King...

, Pausanias inferred from the relief sculptures he saw "Above the head of Zeus are the Horai
Horae
In Greek mythology the Horae or Hours were the goddesses of the seasons and the natural portions of time. They were originally the personifications of nature in its different seasonal aspects, but in later times they were regarded as goddessess of order in general and natural justice...

 and Moirae, and all may see that he is the only god obeyed by Moira." Pausanias' inferred assertion is unsupported in cult practice, though he noted a sanctuary of the Moirae there at Olympia (v.15.4), and also at Corinth
Corinth
Corinth is a city and former municipality in Corinthia, Peloponnese, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Corinth, of which it is the seat and a municipal unit...

 (ii.4.7) and Sparta
Sparta
Sparta or Lacedaemon, was a prominent city-state in ancient Greece, situated on the banks of the River Eurotas in Laconia, in south-eastern Peloponnese. It emerged as a political entity around the 10th century BC, when the invading Dorians subjugated the local, non-Dorian population. From c...

 (iii.11.8), and adjoining the sanctuary of Themis
Themis
Themis is an ancient Greek Titaness. She is described as "of good counsel", and is the embodiment of divine order, law, and custom. Themis means "divine law" rather than human ordinance, literally "that which is put in place", from the verb τίθημι, títhēmi, "to put"...

 outside a city gate of Thebes

Mythology


The Moirai were described as ugly old women, sometimes lame. They were severe, inflexible and stern. Clotho
Clotho
Clotho is one of the Three Fates or Moirae, in ancient Greek mythology. Her Roman equivalent is Nona. Clotho was responsible for spinning the thread of human life. She also made major decisions, such as when a person was born, thus in effect controlling people's lives...

 carries a spindle or a roll (the book of fate), Lachesis
Lachesis (mythology)
In Greek mythology, Lachesis was the second of the Three Fates, or Moirae, also known as the Triple Moon Goddesses or the Lunar Dieties. Each phase of the moon representing each of the fates - Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos...

 a staff with which she points to the horoscope on a globe, and Atropos
Atropos
Atropos or Aisa , in Greek mythology, was one of the three Moirae, goddesses of fate and destiny. Her Roman equivalent was Morta.Atropos or Aisa was the oldest of the Three Fates, and was known as the "inflexible" or "inevitable." It was Atropos who chose the mechanism of death and ended the life...

 (Aisa) 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 Moirae were supposed to appear three nights after a child's birth to determine the course of its life, as in the story of Meleager
Meleager
In Greek mythology, Meleager was a hero venerated in his temenos at Calydon in Aetolia. He was already famed as the host of the Calydonian boar hunt in the epic tradition that was reworked by Homer....

 and the firebrand taken from the hearth and preserved by his mother to extend his life Bruce Karl Braswell from readings in the lexicon of Hesychius
Hesychius of Alexandria
Hesychius of Alexandria , a grammarian who flourished probably in the 5th century CE, compiled the richest lexicon of unusual and obscure Greek words that has survived...

, associates the appearance of the Moirae at the family hearth on the seventh day with the ancient Greek custom of waiting seven days after birth to decide whether to accept the infant into the Gens and to give it a name, cemented with a ritual at the hearth. At Sparta
Sparta
Sparta or Lacedaemon, was a prominent city-state in ancient Greece, situated on the banks of the River Eurotas in Laconia, in south-eastern Peloponnese. It emerged as a political entity around the 10th century BC, when the invading Dorians subjugated the local, non-Dorian population. From c...

 the temple to the Moirae stood near the communal hearth of the
polis
Polis
Polis , plural poleis , literally means city in Greek. It could also mean citizenship and body of citizens. In modern historiography "polis" is normally used to indicate the ancient Greek city-states, like Classical Athens and its contemporaries, so polis is often translated as "city-state."The...

, as Pausanias
Pausanias (geographer)
Pausanias was a Greek traveler and geographer of the 2nd century AD, who lived in the times of Hadrian, Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius. He is famous for his Description of Greece , a lengthy work that describes ancient Greece from firsthand observations, and is a crucial link between classical...

 observed.

As goddesses of birth who even prophesized the fate of the newly born, Eileithyia the ancient Minoan goddess of childbirth and divine midwifery was their companion.Pausanias
Pausanias (geographer)
Pausanias was a Greek traveler and geographer of the 2nd century AD, who lived in the times of Hadrian, Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius. He is famous for his Description of Greece , a lengthy work that describes ancient Greece from firsthand observations, and is a crucial link between classical...

 mentions an ancient role of Eileythia as "the clever spinner", relating her with destiny too. Their appearance indicate the Greek desire for health which was connected with the Greek cult of the body that was essentially a religious activity.

The Moirae assigned to the terrible chthonic
Chthonic
Chthonic designates, or pertains to, deities or spirits of the underworld, especially in relation to Greek religion. The Greek word khthon is one of several for "earth"; it typically refers to the interior of the soil, rather than the living surface of the land or the land as territory...

 goddesses Erinyes
Erinyes
In Greek mythology the Erinyes from Greek ἐρίνειν " pursue, persecute"--sometimes referred to as "infernal goddesses" -- were female chthonic deities of vengeance. A formulaic oath in the Iliad invokes them as "those who beneath the earth punish whosoever has sworn a false oath"...

 who inflicted the punishment for evil deads their proper functions , and with them directed fate according to necessity.As goddesses of death they appeared together with the daemons of death Keres
Keres (mythology)
In Greek mythology, the Keres were female death-spirits. The Keres were daughters of Nyx, and as such the sisters of Fate , Doom , Death and Sleep , Strife , Old Age , Divine Retribution , Charon, and other personifications...

 and the infernal Erinyes.

The Greeks variously claimed that they were the daughters of Zeus
Zeus
In the ancient Greek religion, Zeus was the "Father of Gods and men" who ruled the Olympians of Mount Olympus as a father ruled the family. He was the god of sky and thunder in Greek mythology. His Roman counterpart is Jupiter and his Etruscan counterpart is Tinia.Zeus was the child of Cronus...

 and the Titan
Titan (mythology)
In Greek mythology, the Titans were a race of powerful deities, descendants of Gaia and Uranus, that ruled during the legendary Golden Age....

ess Themis
Themis
Themis is an ancient Greek Titaness. She is described as "of good counsel", and is the embodiment of divine order, law, and custom. Themis means "divine law" rather than human ordinance, literally "that which is put in place", from the verb τίθημι, títhēmi, "to put"...

 (the "Institutor") or of primordial beings like Nyx, the Night, Chaos
Chaos (mythology)
Chaos refers to the formless or void state preceding the creation of the universe or cosmos in the Greek creation myths, more specifically the initial "gap" created by the original separation of heaven and earth....

 or Ananke, Necessity
Ananke (mythology)
In Greek mythology, Ananke, also spelled Anangke, Anance, or Anagke , was the personification of destiny, necessity and fate, depicted as holding a spindle. She marks the beginning of the cosmos, along with Chronos...

.
In earlier times they were represented as only a few – perhaps only one – individual goddess. Homer
Homer
In the Western classical tradition Homer , is the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and is revered as the greatest ancient Greek epic poet. These epics lie at the beginning of the Western canon of literature, and have had an enormous influence on the history of literature.When he lived is...

's Iliad
Iliad
The Iliad is an epic poem in dactylic hexameters, traditionally attributed to Homer. Set during the Trojan War, the ten-year siege of the city of Troy by a coalition of Greek states, it tells of the battles and events during the weeks of a quarrel between King Agamemnon and the warrior Achilles...

(xxiv.209) speaks generally of the Moera, who spins the thread of life for men at their birth; she is Moera Krataia "powerful Moira" (xvi.334) or there are several Moerae (xxiv.49). In the Odyssey
Odyssey
The Odyssey is one of two major ancient Greek epic poems attributed to Homer. It is, in part, a sequel to the Iliad, the other work ascribed to Homer. The poem is fundamental to the modern Western canon, and is the second—the Iliad being the first—extant work of Western literature...

(vii.197) there is a reference to the Klôthes, or Spinners. At Delphi, only the Fates of Birth and Death were revered. In Athens, Aphrodite
Aphrodite
Aphrodite is the Greek goddess of love, beauty, pleasure, and procreation.Her Roman equivalent is the goddess .Historically, her cult in Greece was imported from, or influenced by, the cult of Astarte in Phoenicia....

, who had an earlier, pre-Olympic existence, was called Aphrodite Urania
Aphrodite Urania
Urania was an epithet of the Greek goddess Aphrodite, signifying "heavenly" or "spiritual", to distinguish her from her more earthly aspect of "Aphrodite Pandemos", "Aphrodite for all the people". The two were used to differentiate the more "celestial" love of body and soul from purely physical...

the 'eldest of the Fates' according to Pausanias
Pausanias (geographer)
Pausanias was a Greek traveler and geographer of the 2nd century AD, who lived in the times of Hadrian, Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius. He is famous for his Description of Greece , a lengthy work that describes ancient Greece from firsthand observations, and is a crucial link between classical...

 (x.24.4).
Some Greek mythographers went so far as to claim that the Moirae were the daughters of Zeus
Zeus
In the ancient Greek religion, Zeus was the "Father of Gods and men" who ruled the Olympians of Mount Olympus as a father ruled the family. He was the god of sky and thunder in Greek mythology. His Roman counterpart is Jupiter and his Etruscan counterpart is Tinia.Zeus was the child of Cronus...

— paired with either Ananke
Ananke (mythology)
In Greek mythology, Ananke, also spelled Anangke, Anance, or Anagke , was the personification of destiny, necessity and fate, depicted as holding a spindle. She marks the beginning of the cosmos, along with Chronos...

 ("Necessity") or, as Hesiod
Hesiod
Hesiod was a Greek oral poet generally thought by scholars to have been active between 750 and 650 BC, around the same time as Homer. His is the first European poetry in which the poet regards himself as a topic, an individual with a distinctive role to play. Ancient authors credited him and...

 had it in one passage, Themis
Themis
Themis is an ancient Greek Titaness. She is described as "of good counsel", and is the embodiment of divine order, law, and custom. Themis means "divine law" rather than human ordinance, literally "that which is put in place", from the verb τίθημι, títhēmi, "to put"...

 ("Fundament") or Nyx ("Night"). Whether or not providing a father even for the Moirae was a symptom of how far Greek mythographers were willing to go, in order to modify the old myths to suit the patrilineal Olympic order, the claim of a paternity was certainly not acceptable to Aeschylus
Aeschylus
Aeschylus was the first of the three ancient Greek tragedians whose work has survived, the others being Sophocles and Euripides, and is often described as the father of tragedy. His name derives from the Greek word aiskhos , meaning "shame"...

, Herodotus
Herodotus
Herodotus was an ancient Greek historian who was born in Halicarnassus, Caria and lived in the 5th century BC . He has been called the "Father of History", and was the first historian known to collect his materials systematically, test their accuracy to a certain extent and arrange them in a...

, or Plato
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

.

Despite their forbidding reputation, Moirae could be placated as goddesses. Brides in Athens
Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

 offered them locks of hair and women swore by them. They may have originated as birth-goddesses and only later acquired their reputation as the agents of destiny.

While the Moirae were feared even by the formidable Olympians, including Zeus, they could still be defeated in battle as proven in the Gigantomachy
Gigantomachy
In Greek mythology, Gigantomachy was the symbolic struggle between the cosmic order of the Olympians led by Zeus and the nether forces of Chaos led by the giant Alcyoneus...

 where the Giants fought against the combined forces of the Gods, the Moirae and Heracles
Heracles
Heracles ,born Alcaeus or Alcides , was a divine hero in Greek mythology, the son of Zeus and Alcmene, foster son of Amphitryon and great-grandson of Perseus...

. Though the Moirae did kill the Giants Agrios and Thoon
Thoon
Thoon is a genus of skippers in the family Hesperiidae.-References:*...

 with their bronze clubs, a prophecy detailed a victory for the Giants should Heracles not fight alongside the Olympians.

Europe


In Roman mythology
Roman mythology
Roman mythology is the body of traditional stories pertaining to ancient Rome's legendary origins and religious system, as represented in the literature and visual arts of the Romans...

  the three Moirae are the Parcae
Parcae
thumb|#00px|Early 16th-century [[millefleur tapestry]] depicting the Three Fates under their Greek namesIn Roman mythology, the Parcae were the personifications of destiny, often called The Fates in English. Their Greek equivalent were the Moirae. They controlled the metaphorical thread of life of...

 or Fata
Parcae
thumb|#00px|Early 16th-century [[millefleur tapestry]] depicting the Three Fates under their Greek namesIn Roman mythology, the Parcae were the personifications of destiny, often called The Fates in English. Their Greek equivalent were the Moirae. They controlled the metaphorical thread of life of...

, plural of "fatum" meaning prophetic declaration, oracle, or destiny. The English words fate
Fate
Fate commonly refers to destiny, a predetermined course of events.Fate may also refer to:* Moirae or Fates, in Greek mythology* Time and fate deities, personifications of time and human fate in polytheistic religions- Film and television :...

 (native wyrd
Wyrd
Wyrd is a concept in Anglo-Saxon culture roughly corresponding to fate or personal destiny. The word is ancestral to Modern English weird, which retains its original meaning only dialectally....

 ) and fairy
Fairy
A fairy is a type of mythical being or legendary creature, a form of spirit, often described as metaphysical, supernatural or preternatural.Fairies resemble various beings of other mythologies, though even folklore that uses the term...

  (magic, enchantment), are both derived from "fata" , "fatum" .

In Norse mythology
Norse mythology
Norse mythology, a subset of Germanic mythology, is the overall term for the myths, legends and beliefs about supernatural beings of Norse pagans. It flourished prior to the Christianization of Scandinavia, during the Early Middle Ages, and passed into Nordic folklore, with some aspects surviving...

 the Norns
Norns
The Norns in Norse mythology are female beings who rule the destiny of gods and men, a kind of dísir comparable to the Fates in classical mythology....

 are female beings who rule the destiny of gods and men, twining the thread of life. They set up the laws and decided on the lives of children of time . Their names were Urðr
Urðr
Urðr is one of the Norns in Norse mythology. Along with Verðandi and Skuld , Urðr makes up a trio of Norns that are described as deciding the fates of people...

 (that which became or happened) related with Wyrd
Wyrd
Wyrd is a concept in Anglo-Saxon culture roughly corresponding to fate or personal destiny. The word is ancestral to Modern English weird, which retains its original meaning only dialectally....

, weird (fate
Destiny
Destiny or fate refers to a predetermined course of events. It may be conceived as a predetermined future, whether in general or of an individual...

), Verðandi  (that which is happening) and Skuld
Skuld
Skuld may refer to:* Skuld, one of a group of three norns in Norse mythology* Skuld , a princess in Norse mythology* 1130 Skuld, an asteroid discovered on 2 September 1929 and named after the Norn...

  (that which should become, debt, guilt). In younger legendary sagas, the Norns appear to have been synonymous with witches (Völva
Völva
A vǫlva or völva is a shamanic seeress in Norse paganism, and a recurring motif in Norse mythology....

s), , and they arrive at the birth of the hero to shape his destiny. It seems that originally all of them were Disir
Dísir
In Norse mythology, a dís is a ghost, spirit or deity associated with fate who can be both benevolent and antagonistic towards mortal people. Dísir may act as protective spirits of Norse clans...

, ghosts or deities associated with destruction and destiny. The idea that they were three, their distinction and association with the past, present and future may be due to a late influence from Greek
Greek mythology
Greek mythology is the body of myths and legends belonging to the ancient Greeks, concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world, and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. They were a part of religion in ancient Greece...

 and Roman
Roman mythology
Roman mythology is the body of traditional stories pertaining to ancient Rome's legendary origins and religious system, as represented in the literature and visual arts of the Romans...

 mythology.

In Anglo-Saxon
Anglo-Saxon
Anglo-Saxon may refer to:* Anglo-Saxons, a group that invaded Britain** Old English, their language** Anglo-Saxon England, their history, one of various ships* White Anglo-Saxon Protestant, an ethnicity* Anglo-Saxon economy, modern macroeconomic term...

 culture Wyrd
Wyrd
Wyrd is a concept in Anglo-Saxon culture roughly corresponding to fate or personal destiny. The word is ancestral to Modern English weird, which retains its original meaning only dialectally....

 (Weird) is a concept corresponding to fate
Destiny
Destiny or fate refers to a predetermined course of events. It may be conceived as a predetermined future, whether in general or of an individual...

  or personal destiny (literally: what befalls one). Its Norse cognate is Urðr
Urðr
Urðr is one of the Norns in Norse mythology. Along with Verðandi and Skuld , Urðr makes up a trio of Norns that are described as deciding the fates of people...

, and both names are deriven from the PIE
Pie
A pie is a baked dish which is usually made of a pastry dough casing that covers or completely contains a filling of various sweet or savoury ingredients....

 root wert, "to turn, wind", related with "spindle, distaff". In Old English literature  Wyrd
Wyrd
Wyrd is a concept in Anglo-Saxon culture roughly corresponding to fate or personal destiny. The word is ancestral to Modern English weird, which retains its original meaning only dialectally....

 goes ever as she shall, and remains wholly inevitable. In Macbeth
Macbeth
The Tragedy of Macbeth is a play by William Shakespeare about a regicide and its aftermath. It is Shakespeare's shortest tragedy and is believed to have been written sometime between 1603 and 1607...

 the Weird sisters (or Three Witches), are prophetesses
Sorcerer
-Gaming:* Sorcerer , a 2002 tabletop role playing game made by Ron Edwards* Sorcerer , a 1984 interactive fiction computer game made by Infocom...

, who are deeply entrenched in both worlds of reality and supernatural. Their creation was influenced by British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 folklore, witchcraft
Witchcraft
Witchcraft, in historical, anthropological, religious, and mythological contexts, is the alleged use of supernatural or magical powers. A witch is a practitioner of witchcraft...

, and the legends of the Norns
Norns
The Norns in Norse mythology are female beings who rule the destiny of gods and men, a kind of dísir comparable to the Fates in classical mythology....

 and the Moirae.

The Valkyries (choosers of the slain) , were originally daemons of death. They were female figures who decided who will die in battle, and brought their chosen to the afterlife hall of the slain.They were also related with spinning, and one of them was named Skuld
Skuld
Skuld may refer to:* Skuld, one of a group of three norns in Norse mythology* Skuld , a princess in Norse mythology* 1130 Skuld, an asteroid discovered on 2 September 1929 and named after the Norn...

 (debt, guilt). They may be related to Keres
Keres
Keres may refer to:* Keres , female death-spirits in Greek mythology* Keres people, Pueblo peoples in New Mexico* Keresan languages, languages or dialects spoken by Keres peoples* Paul Keres , Estonian chess grandmaster...

, the daemons of death in Greek mythology, who accompanied the dead to the entrance of Hades
Hades
Hades , Hadēs, originally , Haidēs or , Aidēs , meaning "the unseen") was the ancient Greek god of the underworld. The genitive , Haidou, was an elision to denote locality: "[the house/dominion] of Hades". Eventually, the nominative came to designate the abode of the dead.In Greek mythology, Hades...

. In the scene of Kerostasie
Weighing of souls
The psychostasia, Greek 'weighing of souls', is a method of divine determination of fate, which persists from the Iliad through to christian theology....

 Keres
Keres
Keres may refer to:* Keres , female death-spirits in Greek mythology* Keres people, Pueblo peoples in New Mexico* Keresan languages, languages or dialects spoken by Keres peoples* Paul Keres , Estonian chess grandmaster...

 are the "lots of death", and in some cases Ker
Ker
-People:* Allan Ebenezer Ker* Ker Chien-ming* Crawford Ker* David Ker* George Ker* Humphrey Ker* John Ker* Lucas Arnold Ker*Neil Ripley Ker, a scholar of Anglo-Saxon manuscripts* Richard Ker* Robert Ker* William Ker* William Paton Ker...

 (destruction) has the same meaning with Moira interpreted as "destiny of death" (μοίρα θανάτοιο) .

The Germanic
Germanic
Germanic may refer to* The Germanic languages, descended from Proto-Germanic.* The Germanic peoples**List of Germanic peoples**List of confederations of Germanic tribes* German people* Germanic mythology...

 Matres
Matres
The Matres and Matrones were female deities venerated in North-West Europe from the 1st to the 5th century AD...

 and Matrones , female deities almost entirely in a group of three, have been proposed as connected to the Norns
Norns
The Norns in Norse mythology are female beings who rule the destiny of gods and men, a kind of dísir comparable to the Fates in classical mythology....

 and the Valkyries.

In the Lithuanian mythology
Lithuanian mythology
Lithuanian mythology is an example of Baltic mythology, developed by Lithuanians throughout the centuries.-History of scholarship:Surviving information about Baltic paganism in general is very sketchy and incomplete. As with most ancient Indo-European cultures Lithuanian mythology is an example of...

  Laima
Laima
Laima was the personification of fate and luck in the Latvian and Lithuanian mythologies. She was associated with childbirth, marriage, and death; she was also the patron of pregnant women...

 is the personification of destiny, and her most important duty was to prophecy how the life of a newborn will take place. She may be related to the Hindu
Hindu
Hindu refers to an identity associated with the philosophical, religious and cultural systems that are indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. As used in the Constitution of India, the word "Hindu" is also attributed to all persons professing any Indian religion...

 goddessLaksmi, who was the personification of wealth and prosperity, and associated with good fortune. In the Latvian
Culture of Latvia
The culture of Latvia combines traditional Latvian and Livonian heritage with influences of the country's varied historical heritage.-History:...

 mythology, Laima and her sisters were a trinity of fate deities.

The Moirae were usually described as cold, remorseless and unfeeling, and depicted as old crones or hags. The independent spinster has always inspired fear rather than matrimony: "this sinister connotation we inherit from the spinning goddess," write Ruck and Staples (Ruck and Staples 1994:). See weaving (mythology)
Weaving (mythology)
The theme of weaving in mythology is ancient, and its lost mythic lore probably accompanied the early spread of this art. In traditional societies today, westward of Central Asia and the Iranian plateau, weaving is a mystery within woman's sphere...

.

Orient


The notion of a universal principle of natural order has been compared to similar ideas in other cultures, such as aša
Asha
Asha is the Avestan language term for a concept of cardinal importance to Zoroastrian theology and doctrine. In the moral sphere, aša/arta represents what has been called "the decisive confessional concept of Zoroastrianism." ...

, (Asha
Asha
Asha is the Avestan language term for a concept of cardinal importance to Zoroastrian theology and doctrine. In the moral sphere, aša/arta represents what has been called "the decisive confessional concept of Zoroastrianism." ...

) in Avestan
Avestan language
Avestan is an East Iranian language known only from its use as the language of Zoroastrian scripture, i.e. the Avesta, from which it derives its name...

 religion , Rta
Rta
In the Vedic religion, Ṛta is the principle of natural order which regulates and coordinates the operation of the universe and everything within it. In the hymns of the Vedas, Ṛta is described as that which is ultimately responsible for the proper functioning of the natural, moral and sacrificial...

 in Vedic religion
Vedic religion
Vedic religion may refer to:*the historical Vedic religion- Vedic Hinduism **Vedic mythology*Shrauta, surviving conservative traditions within HinduismIn wider meanings of the term "Vedic"*Vedanta*Hinduism in general...

, and Maat
Maat
Maat is a naval rank of the German navy equivalent to the army rank of Unteroffizier. A Maat is considered the equivalent of a junior Petty Officer in the navies of many other nations....

  in Ancient Egyptian religion.

In the Avestan
Avestan language
Avestan is an East Iranian language known only from its use as the language of Zoroastrian scripture, i.e. the Avesta, from which it derives its name...

 religion and Zoroastrianism
Zoroastrianism
Zoroastrianism is a religion and philosophy based on the teachings of prophet Zoroaster and was formerly among the world's largest religions. It was probably founded some time before the 6th century BCE in Greater Iran.In Zoroastrianism, the Creator Ahura Mazda is all good, and no evil...

, aša
Asha
Asha is the Avestan language term for a concept of cardinal importance to Zoroastrian theology and doctrine. In the moral sphere, aša/arta represents what has been called "the decisive confessional concept of Zoroastrianism." ...

 , is commonly summarized in accord with its contextual implications of "truth" , "right(eousness)", "order". Aša
Asha
Asha is the Avestan language term for a concept of cardinal importance to Zoroastrian theology and doctrine. In the moral sphere, aša/arta represents what has been called "the decisive confessional concept of Zoroastrianism." ...

 and its Vedic
Vedic
Vedic may refer to:* the Vedas, the oldest preserved Indic texts** Vedic Sanskrit, the language of these texts** Vedic period, during which these texts were produced** Vedic pantheon of gods mentioned in Vedas/vedic period...

 equivalent rta
Rta
In the Vedic religion, Ṛta is the principle of natural order which regulates and coordinates the operation of the universe and everything within it. In the hymns of the Vedas, Ṛta is described as that which is ultimately responsible for the proper functioning of the natural, moral and sacrificial...

 are both derived from a PIE
Pie
A pie is a baked dish which is usually made of a pastry dough casing that covers or completely contains a filling of various sweet or savoury ingredients....

 root meaning "properly joined, right, true". The word is the proper name of the divinity Asha
Asha
Asha is the Avestan language term for a concept of cardinal importance to Zoroastrian theology and doctrine. In the moral sphere, aša/arta represents what has been called "the decisive confessional concept of Zoroastrianism." ...

, the personification of "Truth" and "Righteousness". Aša corresponds to an objective, material reality which embraces all of existence. This cosmic force is imbued also with morality, as verbal Truth, and Righteousness, action conforming with the moral order. In the literature of the Mandeans, an angelic being, has the responsibility of weighing the souls of the deceased to determine their worthiness, using a set of scales.

In the Vedic religion
Vedic religion
Vedic religion may refer to:*the historical Vedic religion- Vedic Hinduism **Vedic mythology*Shrauta, surviving conservative traditions within HinduismIn wider meanings of the term "Vedic"*Vedanta*Hinduism in general...

, rta
Rta
In the Vedic religion, Ṛta is the principle of natural order which regulates and coordinates the operation of the universe and everything within it. In the hymns of the Vedas, Ṛta is described as that which is ultimately responsible for the proper functioning of the natural, moral and sacrificial...

  is an abstract principle of natural order which regulates and coordinates the operation of the universe. The term may be interpreted abstractly as "cosmic order", or simply as "truth". It seems that this concept originally arose in the Indo-Aryan period , from a consideration of the features of nature which either remain constant or which occur on a regular basis. The individuals fulfil their true natures when they follow the path set for them by the ordinances of Rta, acting according to the Dharma
Dharma
Dharma means Law or Natural Law and is a concept of central importance in Indian philosophy and religion. In the context of Hinduism, it refers to one's personal obligations, calling and duties, and a Hindu's dharma is affected by the person's age, caste, class, occupation, and gender...

, which is related with social and moral spheres. The god of the waters Varuna
Varuna
In Vedic religion, Varuna is a god of the sky, of water and of the celestial ocean, as well as a god of law and of the underworld...

 was probably originally conceived as the personalized aspect of the otherwise impersonal Ṛta. The gods are never portrayed as having command over Ṛta, but instead they remain subject to it like all created beings.

In Egyptian religion
Egyptian religion
Egyptian religion may refer to:* Modern Religion in Egypt* Ancient Egyptian religion...

, maat
Maat
Maat is a naval rank of the German navy equivalent to the army rank of Unteroffizier. A Maat is considered the equivalent of a junior Petty Officer in the navies of many other nations....

  was the ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...

ian concept of truth
Truth
Truth has a variety of meanings, such as the state of being in accord with fact or reality. It can also mean having fidelity to an original or to a standard or ideal. In a common usage, it also means constancy or sincerity in action or character...

, balance, order, law
Law
Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...

, morality
Morality
Morality is the differentiation among intentions, decisions, and actions between those that are good and bad . A moral code is a system of morality and a moral is any one practice or teaching within a moral code...

, and justice
Justice
Justice is a concept of moral rightness based on ethics, rationality, law, natural law, religion, or equity, along with the punishment of the breach of said ethics; justice is the act of being just and/or fair.-Concept of justice:...

. The word is the proper name of the divinity Maat
Maat
Maat is a naval rank of the German navy equivalent to the army rank of Unteroffizier. A Maat is considered the equivalent of a junior Petty Officer in the navies of many other nations....

, who was the goddess of harmony, justice, and truth represented as a young woman. It was considered that she set the order of the universe from chaos
Chaos (cosmogony)
Chaos refers to the formless or void state preceding the creation of the universe or cosmos in the Greek creation myths, more specifically the initial "gap" created by the original separation of heaven and earth....

 at the moment of creation. Maat was the norm and basic values that formed the backdrop for the application of justice that had to be carried out in the spirit of truth and fairness. In Egyptian mythology
Egyptian mythology
Ancient Egyptian religion was a complex system of polytheistic beliefs and rituals which were an integral part of ancient Egyptian society. It centered on the Egyptians' interaction with a multitude of deities who were believed to be present in, and in control of, the forces and elements of nature...

  Maat dealt with the weighing of souls that took place in the underworld. Her feather was the measure that determined whether the souls (considered to reside in the heart) of the departed would reach the paradise of afterlife successfully. In the famous scene of the Egypt
Culture of Egypt
The culture of Egypt has thousands of years of recorded history. Ancient Egypt was among the earliest civilizations. For millennia, Egypt maintained a strikingly complex and stable culture that influenced later cultures of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. After the Pharaonic era, Egypt itself...

ian Book of the dead Anubis
Anubis
Anubis is the Greek name for a jackal-headed god associated with mummification and the afterlife in ancient Egyptian religion. In the ancient Egyptian language, Anubis is known as Inpu . According to the Akkadian transcription in the Amarna letters, Anubis' name was vocalized as Anapa...

 using a scale weighs the sins of a man's heart against the feather of truth, which represents maat
Maat
Maat is a naval rank of the German navy equivalent to the army rank of Unteroffizier. A Maat is considered the equivalent of a junior Petty Officer in the navies of many other nations....

. If man's heart weighs down, then he is devoured by a monster

The Moirae in literature


The Moirae are fictionalized characters in Piers Anthony's With a Tangled Skein
With a Tangled Skein
With a Tangled Skein is a fantasy novel by Piers Anthony. It is the third of eight books in the Incarnations of Immortality series.- Plot introduction :...

.

External links