The Fates: What Was, What is, What Will Be

Hesiod, Theogony 904-906

“Klôthô, Lakhesis, and Atropos, who grant to mortals
Their share of both evil and good.”

Κλωθώ τε Λάχεσίν τε καὶ ῎Ατροπον, αἵ τε διδοῦσι
θνητοῖς ἀνθρώποισιν ἔχειν ἀγαθόν τε κακόν τε.

Plato, Republic 617a

“There were another three who sat equally apart in a circle, each on her own seat, the Fates, those daughters of necessity, dressed in white clothes with fillets on their heads: Lachesis, Klotho, and Atropos, all joining the hymn with the chorus of Sirens. Lachesis sings what was; Klotho sings what is, and Atropos sings what will be.”

ἄλλας δὲ καθημένας πέριξ δι᾽ ἴσου τρεῖς, ἐν θρόνῳ ἑκάστην, θυγατέρας τῆς ἀνάγκης, Μοίρας, λευχειμονούσας, στέμματα ἐπὶ τῶν κεφαλῶν ἐχούσας, Λάχεσίν τε καὶ Κλωθὼ καὶ Ἄτροπον, ὑμνεῖν πρὸς τὴν τῶν Σειρήνων ἁρμονίαν, Λάχεσιν μὲν τὰ γεγονότα, Κλωθὼ δὲ τὰ ὄντα, Ἄτροπον δὲ τὰ μέλλοντα.

Aristotle assigns the Moirai to different stages

Aristotle, On the Universe, 401b16-23

“There are three Fates—one allotted to different times—and part of the wool of their spindle is already spun, some still needs to be, and some is currently being worked. One of the Moirai is for the past—Atropos—because all things which are behind us cannot be altered (atrepta); the future, then, is Lakhesis, because that which is allotted [lêksis] by nature awaits everything; and the present belongs to Klôthô who decides what is proper for each as she spins (klôthein). That’s how the myth ends and not improperly.”

τρεῖς μὲν γὰρ αἱ Μοῖραι, κατὰ τοὺς χρόνους μεμερισμέναι, νῆμα δὲ ἀτράκτου τὸ μὲν ἐξειργασμένον, τὸ δὲ μέλλον, τὸ δὲ περιστρεφόμενον· τέτακται δὲ κατὰ μὲν τὸ γεγονὸς μία τῶν Μοιρῶν, Ἄτροπος, ἐπεὶ τὰ παρελθόντα πάντα ἄτρεπτά ἐστι, κατὰ δὲ τὸ μέλλον Λάχεσις—[εἰς] πάντα γὰρ ἡ κατὰ φύσιν μένει λῆξις—κατὰ δὲ τὸ ἐνεστὸς Κλωθώ, συμπεραίνουσά τε καὶ κλώθουσα ἑκάστῳ τὰ οἰκεῖα. περαίνεται δὲ καὶ ὁ μῦθος οὐκ ἀτάκτως.

Inspired by this tweet

Moirai

One thought on “The Fates: What Was, What is, What Will Be

  1. Pingback: Women’s History Month, Week 1 – SENTENTIAE ANTIQUAE

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