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Goddess of Fate
Bas relief of Atropos cutting the thread of life.
AbodeMount Olympus
Personal information
SiblingsLachesis, Clotho, various paternal half-siblings

Atropos (/ˈætrəpɒs, -pəs/;[1][2] Ancient Greek: Ἄτροπος "without turn") , in Greek mythology, was one of the three Moirai, goddesses of fate and destiny. Her Roman equivalent was Morta.

Atropos was the eldest of the Three Fates, and was known as "the Inflexible One."[3] It was Atropos who chose the manner of death and ended the life of mortals by cutting their threads.[4] She worked along with her two sisters, Clotho, who spun the thread, and Lachesis, who measured the length. Atropos has been featured in several stories, such as those of Atalanta[5] and Achilles.


Her origin, along with the other two fates, is uncertain, although some called them the daughters of the night. It is clear, however, that at a certain period they ceased to be only concerned with death and also became those powers who decided what may happen to individuals. Although Zeus was the chief Greek god and their father, he was still subject to the decisions of the Fates, and thus the executor of destiny, rather than its source. According to Hesiod's Theogony, Atropos and her sisters (Clotho and Lachesis) were the daughters of Erebus (Darkness) and Nyx (Night) and sisters to Thanatos and Hypnos, though later in the same work (ll. 901–906) they are said to have been of Zeus and Themis.

Dispute of origin[edit]

In the ancient Greek poem, The Shield of Heracles, Atropos is referred to as the oldest and smallest of the three fates. This description is uncommon among references to Atropos. It is uncommon in ancient mentions of her in more ways than one as it turns out, including this fate's moniker. Plato may be behind the creation of Atropos as many of the early descriptions of the fates have Aisa as the name of this third fate, although there is still no clear consensus. The inconsistent nature of these accounts make it difficult to know for sure whether or not Aisa or Atropos is the best name to use when talking about the third fate, but evidence seems to point to Aisa being the more commonly used name earlier on, with Atropos gaining popularity later.[6]


The scientific name of a venomous snake, Bitis atropos, refers to Atropos.[7]

The African Death's-head hawkmoth, Acherontia atropos, also has a species name which references Atropos.


The genus of the deadly nightshade, Atropa belladonna, was named after Atropos by Carolus Linnaeus because of the plant's poisonous properties.


  1. ^ Jones, Daniel (2011). Roach, Peter; Setter, Jane; Esling, John (eds.). Cambridge English Pronouncing Dictionary (18th ed.). Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-15255-6.
  2. ^ Wells, John C. (2008). Longman Pronunciation Dictionary (3rd ed.). Longman. ISBN 978-1-4058-8118-0.
  3. ^ Clement of Alexandria. The Exhortation to the Greeks. The Rich Man's Salvation. To the Newly Baptized. Translated by G. W. Butterworth. Loeb Classical Library 92. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1919, pg 52-53.
  4. ^ Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th Edition. Columbia University Press. January 2000. ISBN 9780787650155.
  5. ^ Baldwin, James (December 2005). "The Story of Atalanta". Old Greek Stories. ISBN 978-1421932125.
  6. ^ Carpenter, Rhys (1925). "The Fates of the Madrid Puteal". American Journal of Archaeology. 29 (2): 117–134. doi:10.2307/497894. ISSN 0002-9114. JSTOR 497894.
  7. ^ Beolens, Bo; Watkins, Michael; Grayson, Michael (2011). The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. xiii + 296 pp. ISBN 978-1-4214-0135-5. ("Atropos", p. 12).

External links[edit]

  • The dictionary definition of Atropos at Wiktionary
  • Works related to Theogony at Wikisource
  • The dictionary definition of Atropos at Wiktionary
  • Media related to Atropos at Wikimedia Commons