However, beginning with the poet Hesiod (8th century BC), the Fates were personified as three extremely elderly ladies who wove the threads of human destiny. Clotho (weaver), Lachesis (allotter), and Atropos were their names (inflexible). It was because of them that people called fate the "Fate of the Gods". They measured out human lives on the distaff of Clotho, the spindle of Lachesis, and the cut thread of Atropos.
In ancient Greece, everyone knew the Fates would some day claim their revenge on Zeus for murdering their father. So, to avoid this terrible doom, people made sacrifices to them every year at certain times of the year. These sacrifices consisted mainly of animals, but sometimes also humans. The Fates were supposed to enjoy these gifts now, so as to be pacified and not tell Zeus about it. When they were done, the animals were sacrificed again, and the first thing they did with the meat after eating it was give it to an orphan or someone like that - anyone who wouldn't want to waste it. Then the fibers from the clothes people wore were given to orphans too. This is how cloth was made available to those who needed it most.
People believed if they did bad things then the Fates would not let them reach old age with no one to take care of them.
The eldest of the three Moirai, the goddesses of fate and destiny (also referred to as The Fates). Atropos picked the method of death and severed each mortal's thread to terminate their lives. The goddess of force and raw energy, Pallas and Styx's daughter, and Nike, Kratos, and Zelus' sister, they were also known as Epimetheus and Euryale. They are said to have been born from Metis (who was one of Zeus' lovers before she married him), although some sources claim they are children of Gaia (Earth).
Their names mean "unfailing" or "unfailingly faithful" in Greek. Alluding to this quality, they were often depicted as a trio with one holding a knife for each member of the family. However, other versions show them as a single figure with six arms.
Although they play an important role in determining each person's future, the Moirai do not intervene to change it if someone does not want their prediction to come true. Rather, they watch and record what happens, then when the time comes, they reveal what has happened by opening up each person's own personal box containing his or her future.
People believe that by knowing one's future they can take measures to change it, but this is not so. Whether our actions are good or bad, they will have an impact on what will happen to us. Knowing this is enough punishment for most people.
The Moirai (/'moIraI,-ri:/, also spelled Moirae or Moerae; Ancient Greek: Moirai, "lots, destinies, apportioners"), also known in English as the Fates (Latin: Fata), were the incarnations of fate in ancient Greek religion and mythology; their Roman equivalent was the Parcae (euphemistically the "sparing ones"), and they are likewise referred to as Norns in Norse mythology.
They make their appearance early on in Greek mythology, before humans even know how to write names. The first thing that the Moirai do is divide up humanity's life span among itself. They do this by drawing lots: Each one takes a bowl of water and dips her hand into it. This is the lot in which she writes the amount of life each person has left. There are three pots of water - one for each woman and one for Zeus, who can always change the outcome of the drawings if he wants to. As soon as the lots are drawn, human life spans are divided between the women — some longer, some shorter than average. This is why people say that destiny plays a role in your life; you can only hope to influence its outcome through good actions taken during your time on Earth.
The Moirai play an important part in many stories from classical mythology. For example, they are mentioned several times by Homer in the Iliad when describing events that will happen at a certain date and hour.
There are three Greek Fates. The Parcae, who were originally personifications of childbirth, were linked by the Romans with the three Greek Fates. The Parcae were Clotho, who measures the threads of life; Lachesis, who determines how long these threads will take to grow again; and Atropos, who cuts the thread when her sisters have chosen their fate.
Clotho is usually depicted as an old woman with endless threads of wool being wound around a spindle, which forms humans out of the yarn. Because people often compare old age to death, Clotho's name comes from a root meaning "to sew" or "to knit."
Lachesis is also called "the mother of time," because she controls how long humans live. She is usually shown with a scythe, which represents mortality, lying beside a stream or river. Humans can be seen growing back out of the soil where Lachesis has cut them down! Her name means "without delay."
Atropos is known as "the sisterhood of death," because she cuts the thread that ties mortals to life. She is usually shown with a knife in one hand and a thread in the other, which she uses to cut the thread that connects humans to life.