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The Fates are a common motif in European polytheism, most frequently represented as a trio of goddesses. The Fates shape the destiny of each human, often expressed in textile metaphors such as spinning fibers into yarn, or weaving threads on a loom.

In mythology

The three fates, Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos, who spin, draw out and cut the thread of life. (Flemish tapestry, Victoria and Albert Museum, London
  • Moirai,[1][2][3] incarnations of destiny in Greek mythology
  • Parcae,[4] Roman counterparts of the Greek Moirai
  • Rozhanitsy,[5] figures in Slavic mythology who foretell a person's destiny
  • Norns,[6][7] incarnations of destiny in Norse mythology
  • Deivės Valdytojos,[8] seven sisters of Baltic mythology who weave garments from human lives

In fiction

This motif has been replicated in fictional accounts, such as:

  • Three Witches, characters in Shakespeare's Macbeth[9]
  • In his poem "Howl",[10] Allen Ginsberg warns of "the three old shrews of fate the one eyed shrew of the heterosexual dollar the one eyed shrew that winks out of the womb and the one eyed shrew that does nothing but sit on her ass and snip the intellectual golden threads of the craftsman's loom".
  • Orddu, Orwen and Orgoch, characters in Lloyd Alexander's 1960s book series The Chronicles of Prydain.
  • The Fates, characters in Disney's Hercules[11]
  • The Kindly Ones, characters in “The Sandman” series of comics written by Neil Gaiman
  • The Fates/Moirai, characters in various books by Rick Riordan in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Heroes of Olympus and The Trials of Apollo series
  • The Sisters of Fate, characters in the God of War video game series, based on the Greek Fates
  • The Fates, characters in Anaïs Mitchell's Hadestown musical
  • The Fates, primary antagonists of season five of the superhero television series Legends of Tomorrow
  • The three aspects of Fate in With a Tangled Skein by Piers Anthony


  1. Homer (1965–1967). The Iliad : with an English translation. W. Heinemann. OCLC 221448332. 
  2. Bulfinch, Thomas (2016). Bulfinch's mythology. Publishing. ISBN 9781420953046. OCLC 1017567068. 
  3. Homer (1938–1942). The Odyssey, with an English translation. W. Heinemann. OCLC 7440655. 
  4. Day, John (1988). God's conflict with the dragon and the sea : echoes of a Canaanite myth in the Old Testament. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521256003. OCLC 1056600192. 
  5. Cross, Tom Peete (July 1919). "Celtic MythologyThe Mythology of All Races, Vol. III. John Arnott MacCulloch , Jan Máchal , Louis Herbert Gray". The American Journal of Theology 23 (3): 371–376. doi:10.1086/480029. ISSN 1550-3283. 
  6. Goldenweiser, A. A.; Gray, Louis Herbert; Moore, George Foot; Fox, William Sherwood; Keith, A. Berriedale; Carnoy, Albert J.; Dixon, Roland B.; Alexander, Hartley Burr (1918-03-28). "The Mythology of All Races. Vol. I: Greek and Roman. Vol. VI: Indian and Iranian. Vol. IX: Oceanic. Vol. X: North American". The Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific Methods 15 (7): 190. doi:10.2307/2940073. ISSN 0160-9335. 
  7. Med, Intervju; Horverak, Øyvind (October 1995). "Article". Nordisk Alkoholtisdkrift (Nordic Alcohol Studies) 12 (5–6): 303–304. doi:10.1177/1455072595012005-616. ISSN 0789-6069. 
  8. Klimka, Libertas (2012-03-01). "Senosios baltų mitologijos ir religijos likimas". Lituanistica 58 (1). doi:10.6001/lituanistica.v58i1.2293. ISSN 0235-716X. 
  9. Shakespeare, William (1623-01-01), "Macbeth", The Oxford Shakespeare: The Tragedy of Macbeth, Oxford University Press, pp. 91–92, doi:10.1093/oseo/instance.00000007, ISBN 9780198129011 
  10. Ginsberg, Allen (2006). Howl. Museum of American Poetics Publications. OCLC 666904326. 
  11. "Boogie Nights, 1997 (Movie Review and Trivia)", Appetite, University of Pittsburgh Press, 2012, pp. 24, doi:10.2307/j.ctt1b3h9zv.18, ISBN 9780822978459