We've also included some beautiful illustrations from our pictorial archive, Greek and Roman Mythology: An Image Archive for Artists and Designers, which will help bring these stories to life - read on and enjoy!
How Did Odysseus Outwit the Sirens?
Who Were The Moirai, and What Was Their Role?
The Moirai were the personifications of fate in Ancient Greek religion and mythology. Known in English as The Fates, people believed they were three mysterious figures who would dictate an individual's destiny – Clotho (the spinner), Lachesis (the allotter) and Atropos (the unturnable).
The word "moira" refers to someone's fair share or portion. In ancient times, this referred to a share of the loot from a battle, distributed among the group following a rigid traditional process. The concept began to apply to one's fair share in life. Obtaining more than one's fair share (ὑπὲρ μοῖραν "over the portion") was achievable, but it would have severe consequences because it was considered a violation of the natural order.
Clotho, also known as Klotho (Greek: Κλωθώ), is the youngest of the three goddesses in the Greek Fate mythology. She was responsible for spinning the thread of life from her distaff onto her spindle and had the power to decide when gods or mortals could be saved or killed. She presided over conception and birth in some accounts, choosing who would be born and when. Her Roman counterpart is Nona, or "The Ninth, " originally a goddess called upon during the ninth month of pregnancy.
Lachesis (Greek: Λάχεσις) was the second goddess of fate. Her role was to calculate each person's allotted thread of life using her measuring rod and assign different tasks to people according to their futures. Her Roman counterpart, Decima or "the Tenth", was believed to distribute rewards and punishments according to a person's destiny. People thought Lachesis planned people's destinies by talking to individual souls before they were born to establish their intertwined journeys in life.
Atropos (Greek: Ἄτροπος), was the eldest Fate goddess and the one who ended each life by cutting its thread with her shears. People thought that the time of an individual's death was preordained, and Atropos could not be swayed or changed by any means; she represented unalterable fate or destiny. Her Roman counterpart Morta or "The Dead One", embodied death. It was said that she would never allow the wheel of fortune to turn backwards; once someone's fate is chosen and sealed, any attempt to change it will fail miserably.
Below,The Three Fates by Paul Thumann.
How Did Perseus Save Andromeda?
Andromeda was a young princess from Greek mythology and the daughter of King Cepheus and Queen Cassiopeia of Ethiopia. Her story is an example of what would become known as the 'princess and dragon' motif, which appears across cultures throughout history.
Andromeda was famed for her astonishing beauty. Her mother made the fatal error of boasting that princess Andromeda was even more beautiful than the Nereids, the sea nymphs and companions of Poseidon, the god of water. If there's one thing the Greek gods don't like, it's humans thinking they are better than them. As punishment for her conceit, Poseidon sent Cetus, a monstrous sea creature, to ravage the coast of Ethiopia.
An Oracle told King Cepheus that he must sacrifice his daughter to appease the creature. Andromeda was chained to the rocky shore and left for Cetus to devour her. Fortunately, she was saved at the last minute by Perseus, who was flying home after slaying the gorgon Medusa. He unchained Andromeda, which summoned Cetus. Accounts vary about how he killed the monster, either using a sword or Medusa's head to turn it to stone. Andromeda married Perseus (despite opposition from her uncle, to whom she was already betrothed. However, offering him a quick glimpse of Medusa's head solved that problem!). They went back to Greece, where Perseus founded and ruled the city of Mycenae. Athena immortalised her and Perseus as constellations in the sky when they died.
Below, Perseus and Andromeda, by Jan Saenredam, after Hendrick Goltzius, 1601 from Greek and Roman Mythology: An Image Archive for Artists and Designers