In classical mythology, man’s destiny is controlled by the Three Fates. When people are born the Fates determine how their lives will unfold, what will happen to them and when they will die. All human beings, and even the gods, were subject to their whims, except perhaps for Jupiter, although opinion differed on this matter in antiquity.
The Fates are generally depicted as ugly, old women, each with her own task. Clotho (the spinner) spun the ‘thread of life.’ Lachesis (the allotter) measured the thread with her measuring rod and thus ordained how long someone would live. Atropos (the unturnable) cut the thread of life when the time had come. In the visual arts the Fates also sometimes stand for death, or accompany Death on his rounds.