Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)

Three women of Greek Myth who exist outside both the ordinary world and the Pantheon. Ultimately, they control everybody's Fate or weird, including that of the Gods themselves. Clotho spins threads representing each individual life; Lachesis weaves each thread into a pattern, representing the course of the life; finally, Atropos cuts off the thread with shears. The Fates (or Parcae) are omniscient, and may be consulted as Oracles; they offer information unwillingly, usually under threat, and traditionally should not be approached except as a last resort. Their Nordic cognates, the Norns, are Urthr, Verthandi and Skuld, respectively ruling the past, present and future. In Insomnia (1994) by Stephen King, the Fates are unusually represented by three bald men. [CB/DRL]

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.