Saturday, December 17, 2016

Decima and the Fates in Mythology 1827

Decima and the Fates in Mythology, from a Classical Manual 1827

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[While the National Weather Service doesn’t officially name winter storms, the Weather Channel does and they have been doing so since 2012 when they named the NorEaster “Winter Storm Athena.” They have also been notorious for using terms like “Snowtober” and “Snowmageddon” to describe disruptive winter storms. This winter the Weather Channel has chosen the name of Decima, a name that some regard as the Winter Witch, but she was certainly one of the Fates in ancient mythology. So who were the Fates?]

The Fates, or PARCAE, were goddesses, whose power among the ancients was considered to be absolute. They were supposed to preside over the birth, life, and death of mankind; but mythologists differ with respect to their number and origin. Hesiod and Apollodorus trace the latter to Nox, or to Jupiter and Themis; Orpheus, to Erebus; Lycophron, to the sea and Jupiter Zeus; and others, to Necessity and Destiny. Cicero identifies them with the fatal necessity or destiny by which all things are directed and governed; Lucian confounds them with Destiny, or Eimarmene; while others describe them either as the ministers of that divinity, of Jupiter, or of Pluto. With respect to their number, it is the received opinion that it was three; and the names generally applied to them are, CLOTHO, LACHESIS, and ATROPOS. The number three is said to imply, by an ingenious allegory, the three divisions of time, as referred to the present, the past, and the future; Clotho, who held the distaff, in the act of spinning, designating the present; Lachesis, a well-filled spindle, the past; and Atropos, a pair of scissors with which she cut the thread (emblematical of the course of life), the future. Pausanias enumerates three other goddesses, who discharged the offices of the Fates: viz. Venus Urania, Fortune, and Ilithyia. Some add to these Proserpine, or Stygian Juno (who often disputes with Atropos the office of cutting the thread of life), and Opis, the same as Nemesis, or Adrastia. The Romans assigned the names DECIMA, NONA, and MORTA, to the Fates. Many of the ancients affirm that they were not subject to any of the gods, except Jupiter while others maintain that even Jupiter himself was obedient to their commands: some, on the contrary, assert that it was DESTINY to whose control the king of the gods was subject. The Fates inhabit, according to Orpheus, as the ministers of Pluto, a dark cave in Tartarus; according to Ovid, a palace, in which the destinies of mankind are engraven on iron and brass, so that neither the thunders of Jupiter, the motion of the heavenly bodies, nor any convulsion of nature, can efface the decrees.

Plato and other philosophers place their abode in the celestial regions, describing them as decorated with starry white robes, with crowns on their heads, seated upon thrones of resplendent brightness, and joining in harmonious strains with the Sirens. Among other representations, they are depicted under the semblance of decrepid old women, entirely covered by a white robe edged with purple, wearing crowns, composed either of flocks of wool and narcissus flowers, or of gold (their heads being often however encircled by a simple fillet), and holding respectively a distaff, a spindle, and a pair of scissors; sometimes a crown with seven stars, a variegated robe, and a light blue drapery, are exclusively assigned to Clotho; a robe covered with stars, and a pink drapery, to Lachesis [Decima]; and a long black veil, to Atropoa; the great age of the Parcae denoting the eternity of the divine decrees; the distaff and spindle, the regulation of these decrees; and the mysterious thread, the little importance which should he attached to a state of existence depending on the most trifling casualties. Lycophron describes them as being lame; and Hesiod as having black and ferocious countenances. They are sometimes placed, with the Hours, round the throne of Pluto; and, at Megara, they were sculptured on the head of a Jupiter, to imply the subjection of the god to Destiny, of whom, according to such representation, the Fates were the ministers.

The Greeks called them Moirae, the Romans in later times, Matrae, and erected altars to them at Olympia, Megara, Sicyon, and Sparta, at Rome, in Tuscany, and at Verona; in Gaul, these divinities were worshipped under the appellation of Goodess-Mothers.

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