Unravelling the Fates

In this week’s lesson, we first looked at some clips from a film called The Adjustment Bureau. This features a group of men who appear to represent fate. They keep a close eye on everyone’s lives, and nudge people back in line if they are somehow veering away from their ‘plan’.

The ancient Greeks grappled, just as we do today, with the ideas of free will and destiny. They imagined that there were three goddesses of fate, Clotho, who spun the thread of someone’s life (each person’s life was represented by a thread), Lachesis, who allotted the path, and Atropos, who cut the thread and thus represented death.

We looked at some more modern interpretations of the Fates in art, as well as a musical imagining in the Broadway musical Hadestown. We also looked at how the ancient Greeks depicted the goddesses in art.  

One genealogy of the Fates (Moirai in Greek), imagines that they are the daughters of Zeus and Themis. This makes them seem under the control of Zeus and part of the civilised, more modern, Olympians. However, another story makes them the daughter of the primordial Greek goddess Ananke, who was in charge of fate and necessity!

We talked about some of the very first gods and goddesses from Greek mythology, many of whom were later overthrown and subjugated by the younger Olympian gods. 

This led us to our first Latin translation, which was the Greek and Roman story of how the universe came to be. We looked at some of the similarities between Latin and English words – like ‘terra’ and ‘terrain’, ‘aqua’ and ‘aquarium’, and even ‘luna’ and ‘lunatic’. 

We will have a quiz next lesson exploring the Olympian gods in ancient Greek pottery art! 

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