The role of the three Fates were commonly explained through the metaphor of weaving cloth. Clotho would spin the threads, Lachesis would measure the cloth, and Atropos would shear the cloth. The the sister who spun the cloth, Clotho decided when and where each mortal was born. Thus she had a major impact of what life each mortal had the potential to live. She also had the power to decide whether mortals or gods could be saved or put to death.
Although gods like Zeus, Aries, and Athena were though of as the most powerful gods, even they had no control over the Fates. While the Fates were the ones who controlled destiny, the other gods could only enforce whatever destiny the Fates chose. Clotho was especially powerful, since she could effectively revive any god she felt didn’t deserve death.
Clotho played a very large role in many myths. She helped Hermes create the alphabet, and convinced Zeus to slay Asclepius. At one point, Alcestis got Clotho drunk to in an attempt to trick Clotho into reviving her husband Admetus.
Clotho also played a key role in the story of the Ivory Shoulder. Tantalus, prepared a meal for a dinner party with the gods. To prepare the meal, he killed his son Pelops and boiled him. When the gods had found out Tantalus has slain his own kin to feed him to them, the condemned him to Hades. Clotho used her live giving powers to restore Pelops with what was left of his body. He was restored entirely, save for his shoulder which had been eaten.
In early depictions of Greek mythology, it was said the Fates were born from Erebus and Nyx. Later stories said they were born from Zeus and Themis. Clotho’s Roman equivalent was known as Nona. The Romans believed that Clotho was born from Uranus and Gaia.
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