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Μοῖραι). The Greek goddesses of fate. Homer, in one passage ( Il. xxiv. 209), speaks generally of the Moera, that spins the thread of life for men at their birth; in another (ib. 49), of several Moerae; and elsewhere ( Od. vii. 197), of the Κλῶθες, or Spinners. Their relation to Zeus and other gods is no more clearly defined by Homer than by the other Greeks. At one time fate is a power with unlimited sway over men and gods, and the will of fate is searched out and executed by Zeus with the other gods ( Il. xix. 87; Od. xxii. 413); at another, Zeus is called the highest ruler of destinies; or again, he and the other gods can change the course of fate ( Il. xvi. 434), and even men can exceed the limits it imposes ( Il. xx. 336). In Hesiod, they are called in one passage (Theog. 211-17) daughters of night and sisters of the goddesses of death (Κῆρες), while in another (Theog. 904) they are the daughters of Zeus and Themis and sisters of the Horae, who give good and bad

Clotho, Atropos, and Lachesis. (Roman relief, in Schloss Tegel, near Berlin.)

fortunes to mortals at their birth; their names are Clotho (the Spinner), who spins the thread of life; Lachĕsis (Disposer of Lots), who determines its length, and Atrŏpos (Inevitable), who cuts it off. As exerting power at the time of birth, they are connected with Ilithyia, the goddess of birth, who was supposed to stand beside them, and was invoked together with them, these and the Keres being the powers that decided when life should end. As at birth, they determine men's destinies in life; they are also able to predict them. While, on the one hand, they are regarded as the impartial representatives of the government of the world, they are, on the other hand, sometimes conceived as cruel and jealous, because they remorselessly thwart the plans and desires of men.

In art, they appear as maidens of grave aspect. Clotho is usually represented with a spindle; Lachesis with a scroll, or a globe; and Atropos with a pair of scales, or shears, or else drawing a lot (as in the illustration). The Romans identified the Moerae with their native goddesses of fate—the Parcae. These were also called Fata, and were invoked, at the end of the first week of an infant's life, as Fata Scribunda, the goddesses that wrote down men's destiny in life.

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