(1 syl.). The cruel fates. The Greeks and Romans supposed there were three Parcæ or Fates, who arbitrarily controlled the birth, events, and death of every man. They are called cruel because they pay no regard to the wishes and requirements of anyone.
The three Fates were Clotho (who held the distaff), Lachesis (who spun the thread of life), and Atropos (who cut it off when life was ended).
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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