The Moirae, Moerae or Moirai (in Greek Μοῖραι – the "apportioners", often called The Fates), in Greek mythology, were the white-robed personifications of destiny (Roman equivalent: Parcae, euphemistically the "sparing ones", or Fata; also equivalent to the Germanic Norns). Their number became fixed at three.
The Greek word moira (μοῖρα) literally means a part or portion, and by extension one's portion in life or destiny. They controlled the metaphorical thread of life of every mortal from birth to death.
Zeus and the Moirae
Even the gods feared the Moirae. Zeus also was subject to their power, the Pythian priestess at Delphi once admitted. Hesiod referred to "the Moirai to whom wise Zeus gave the greatest honor", though no classic writing clarifies as to what exact extent the lives of immortals were impacted by the whims of the Fates themselves, and it is to be expected that the relationship of Zeus and the Moirae was not immutable over the centuries.
A supposed epithet Zeus Moiragetes, meaning "Zeus Leader of the Moirae" was inferred by Pausanias from an inscription he saw in the second century AD at Olympia: "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, Pausanias inferred from the relief sculptures he saw "Above the head of Zeus are the Horai 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 (ii.4.7) and Sparta (iii.11.8), and adjoining the sanctuary of Themis outside a city gate of Thebes
H. J. Rose writes that Nyx ("Night") was also the mother of the Moirae as she was of the Erinyes, in the Orphic tradition.
When they were three, the three Moirae were:
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