In Herodotus's Histories (I.91) it is said:

When the Lydians came, and spoke as they had been instructed, the priestess (it is said) made the following reply. “No one may escape his lot, not even a god.

This would seem to indicate that the gods are subject to the whims of the Fates. Of course, this is also simply the opinion of a mortal, albeit a priestess.

Contrariwise, Zeus is often considered as the leader of the Olympians, with all of them subject to his will. This would seem to include the Moirai.

Is there any evidence for or against Zeus being subject to the will of the Fates?

  • "It was not an inflexible fate; Zeus, if he chose, had the power of saving even those who were already on the point of being seized by their fate."
    – bleh
    Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 0:24

1 Answer 1


Yes, surprisingly,

The Moirai were independent, at the helm of necessity, directed fate, and watched that the fate assigned to every being by eternal laws might take its course without obstruction; and Zeus, as well as the other gods and man, had to submit to them.

From here

Quintus Smyrnaeus,
"To the Moirai (Moirae, Fates) the might of Zeus must bow; and by the Immortals' purpose all these things had come to pass, or by the Moirai's ordinance."

We see this directly in a known myth,

Nonnus, Dionysiaca,
"[Zeus swore he would grant Semele a wish, but she requested he appear before her in his full glory which would bring her destruction :] Father Zeus heard, and blamed the jealous Moirai (Moirae, Fates), and pitied Semele so soon to die . . . [Zeus tried to dissuade her] but he had no thought of fighting against the threads of Fate."

But Zeus was the guide...

Pausanias, Description of Greece
"[In the temple of Zeus at Megara :] Above the head of Zeus are the Horai (Horae, Seasons) and Moirai (Moirae, Fates), and all may see that he is the only god obeyed by Moira (Destiny)."

Pausanias, Description of Greece
"[In the shrine of Despoine (Despoena) at Akakesion (Acacesium) in Arkadia :] On the first relief are wrought Moirai (Moirae) and Zeus surnamed Moiragetes (Guide of Fate)."

Zeus was the Moiragetes- the Guide.

  • Your second quote seems to contradict your first, saying that Zeus is obeyed by Moira.
    – Obie 2.0
    Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 0:34
  • Important to note that when Zeus swore his oath to Semele, he swore on the river Styx, which is why he could not break his vow. This is another example of the Gods being subject to greater powers: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Styx#Significance_of_the_River_Styx
    – DukeZhou
    Commented Aug 24, 2016 at 14:19

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