Death is not the opposite of life, but a part of it.
– Haruki Murakami
“The Three Fates” was painted by Italian painter Francesco de’ Rossi in 1550.
In Roman and Greek mythology, the Fates – called the Moirai – were three sister deities. These sisters controlled the destiny and life of both gods and mortals. The lives of mortals was represented by a thread, spun from a spindle.
The sisters where Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos.
- Clotho (Greek Κλωθώ, “spinner”) spun the thread of life from her distaff onto her spindle.
- Lachesis (Greek Λάχεσις, “allotter” or drawer of lots) measured the thread of life allotted to each person with her measuring rod.
- Atropos (Greek Ἄτροπος, “inexorable” or “inevitable”, literally “unturning”) was the cutter of the thread of life. She chose the manner of each person’s death; and when their time was come, she cut their life-thread with her shears.
There are many different mediums and depictions of the Morai, from fine art paintings and sculptures, to cinema and modern illustrations.
Below is my favorite modern version of The Three Fates;
***A memento mori is a reminder of death. It is a key practice in Stoicism but is not unique to it. It can be a simple visual reminder or quote or a more serious mediation on death. Stoics use it to remind themselves of how short and fragile life is and therefore how much we have to be grateful for, to live virtuous lives, and not to waste our time.
In this series, each Monday, I will post a memento mori from various sources, either from the primary Stoic texts themselves or other sources.