Fragment 500263



of the pastime of the three Parce sisters;

Original French:  du paſſetemps des troys ſoeurs Parces:

Modern French:  du passetemps des troys soeurs Parces:

Rabelais speaks of these sisters again in Chapter 51: «des sœurs fatales, filles de Necessité.».


troys seurs Parses

Les trois Parques.

Rabelais, François (ca. 1483–1553), Œuvres de F. Rabelais. Nouvelle edition augmentée de plusieurs extraits des chroniques admirables du puissant roi Gargantua… et accompagnée de notes explicatives…. L. Jacob (pseud. of Paul Lacroix) (1806–1884), editor. Paris: Charpentier, 1840. p. 306.

three Sister Fates

Catullus, lxiii. 305-322.

Rabelais, François (ca. 1483–1553), The Five Books and Minor Writings. Volume 1: Books I-III. William Francis Smith (1842–1919), translator. London: Alexader P. Watt, 1893. Internet Archive

troys sœurs Parces

Comme on sait, les trois Parques filent.

Rabelais, François (ca. 1483–1553), Le Tiers Livre. Edition critique. Jean Céard, editor. Librarie Général Français, 1995. p. 452.


Évocation de fileuses légendaires: les Parques, filent la destinée des hommes; l’enchanteresse Circé est plus connue par la métamorphose des compagnons d’Ulysse en pourceaux (Odyssée, x, 203 sqq.) que pas ses talents de fileuse, évoqués cependant par Virgile (Énéide, VII, 14).

Rabelais, François (ca. 1483–1553), Le Tiers Livre. Pierre Michel, editor. Paris: Gallimard, 1966. p. 560.


proxima Circaeae raduntur litora terrae,
dives inaccessos ubi Solis filia lucos
adsiduo resonat cantu, tectisque superbis
urit odoratam nocturna in lumina cedrum
arguto tenuis percurrens pectine telas.
hinc exaudiri gemitus iraeque leonum
vincla recusantum et sera sub nocte rudentum,
saetigerique sues atque in praesepibus ursi
saevire ac formae magnorum ululare luporum,
quos hominum ex facie dea saeva potentibus herbis
induerat Circe in vultus ac terga ferarum.

The next shores they skirt are those of Circe’s realm, where the wealthy daughter of the Sun thrills the untrodden groves with ceaseless song and in her proud palace burns fragrant cedar to illuminate the night, while she drives her shrill shuttle through the fine web. From these shores could be heard the angry growls of lions chafing at their bonds and roaring in midnight hours, the raging of bristly boars and caged bears, and huge wolfish shapes howling. These were they whom, robbing them of their human form with potent herbs, Circe, cruel goddess, had clothed in the features and frames of beasts.

Virgil (70 – 19 BC), Aeneid. Books 7-12. George Patrick Goold (1922–2001), translator. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1918. 7.14. Loeb Classical Library

Three sister fates

Qui postquam niveis flexerunt sedibus artus,
large multiplici constructae sunt dape mensae,
cum interea infirmo quatientes corpora motu
veridicos Parcae coeperunt edere cantus.
his corpus tremulum complectens undique vestis
candida purpurea talos incinxerat ora,
at roseae niveo residebant vertice vittae
aeternumque manus carpebant rite laborem.
laeve colum molli lana retinebat amictum,
dextera tum leviter deducens fila supinis
formabat digitis, tum prono in pollice torquens
libratum tereti versabat turbine fusum,
atque ita decerpens aequabat semper opus dens,
laneaque aridulis haerebant morsa labellis,
quae prius in levi fuerant extantia filo:
ante pedes autem candentis mollia lanae
vellera virgati custodibant calathisci.
hae tum clarisona vellentes vellera voce
talia divino fuderunt carmine fata,
carmine, perfidiae quod post nulla arguet aetas.

So when they had reclined their limbs on the white couches, bountifully were the tables piled with varied dainties: whilst in the meantime, swaying their bodies with palsied motion, the Parcae began to utter sooth-telling chants. White raiment enfolding their aged limbs robed their ankles with a crimson border; on their snowy heads rested rosy bands, while their hands duly plied the eternal task. The left hand held the distaff clothed with soft wool; then the right hand lightly drawing out the threads with upturned fingers shaped them, then with downward thumb twirled the spindle poised with rounded whorl; and so with their teeth they still plucked the threads and made the work even. Bitten ends of wool clung to their dry lips, which had before stood out from the smooth yarn: and at their feet soft fleeces of white-shining wool were kept safe in baskets of osier. They then, as they plucked the wool, sang with clear voice, and thus poured forth the Fates in divine chant. That chant no length of time shall prove untruthful.

Catullus, Gaius Valerius, (84–54 BCE), Poems. G. F. Goold, translator. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1912. 63.305. Loeb Classical Library


Parsee Forms: Persie, Parcee, -sie, -sey, -sy, -si, Persee, Parsee. [adopted from Persian Pa¯rsi¯ Persian, formed on Pa¯rs Persia. In earlier use, Persees, -seis, -ceys, occur as variants of Perses, -is, French Perses, Latin Persas, Persians.]

One of the descendants of those Persians who fled to India in the seventh and eighth centuries to escape Muslim persecution, and who still retain their religion (Zoroastrianism); a Guebre.

1398 John de Trevisa Bartholomeus De proprietatibus rerus xv. cxviii. (Harl. MS. 644, lf. (131/2), Þe first Perceys weron clepyd Elamytes.

1495 Ibid. xviii. civ, The Persees callen an arowe Tigris.

1615 Edward Terry in Purchas Pilgrims (1625) II. 1479 There is one sect among the Gentiles… called Parcees.

1630 Lord (title) The Religion of the Persees, As it was Compiled from a Booke of theirs

1662 J. Davies, translator Mandelslo’s Travels 74 The Parsis believe that there is but one God, preserver of the Universe.



Posted 26 January 2013. Modified 9 June 2017.

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