In Greek and Roman mythology the Graces (or Charites) were minor goddesses who symbolized beauty charm, and goodness. The number of Graces varied, though most myths included three sisters: Aglaia (brightness or splendor), Thalia (good cheer or blossoming one), and Euphrosyne (mirth or joyfulness). Other Graces sometimes mentioned were Cleta (sound), Pasithea (shining), and Peitho (persuasion).

According to most stories, the Graces were the children of Zeus* and Eurynome, a daughter of the Titans Oceanus and Tethys. In some myths, however, the Graces' parents were Zeus and Hera*. The Graces always appeared as a group rather than as separate individuals. They were also frequently linked with the Muses, another group of female goddesses.

The main role of the Graces was to bestow beauty, charm, and goodness on young women and to give joy to people in general. They were usually associated with Aphrodite, the goddess of love, and appeared among the attendants of the gods Apollo*, Dionysus*, and Hermes*. They entertained the gods by dancing to the music of Apollo's lyre. At times, the Graces were considered patrons of music, dance, and poetry.

The Graces provided inspiration to artists throughout the centuries. Most works of art portray them with their hands entwined and their bodies either nude or partially draped with flowing robes. One of the most famous paintings of the Graces is Primavera by Botticelli, an Italian artist of the late 1400s.

See also Apollo ; Greek Mythology ; Muses ; Roman Mythology .

Titan one of a family of giants who ruled the earth Until overthrown by the Greek gods of Olympus

lyre stringed instrument similar to a small harp

patron special guardian, protector, or supporter

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