Graces

All Sources -
Updated Media sources (1) About encyclopedia.com content Print Topic Share Topic
views updated

Graces

Nationality/Culture

Greek

Pronunciation

GRAY-siz

Alternate Names

Charites, Gratiae (Roman)

Appears In

Hesiod's Theogony, ancient Greek hymns and odes

Lineage

Daughters of Zeus and Eurynome

Character Overview

In Greek and Roman mythology , the Graces were minor goddesses who symbolized beauty, charm, and goodness. The number of Graces varied, though most myths included three sisters: Aglaia (pronounced uh-GLAY-uh; “brightness” or “splendor”), Thalia (pronounced thuh-LYE-uh; “good cheer” or “blossoming one”), and Euphrosyne (pronounced yoo-FROS-uh-nee; “mirth” or “joyfulness”). Other Graces sometimes mentioned were Cleta (pronounced KLEE-tuh; “sound”), Pasithea (pronounced puh-SITH-ee-uh; “shining”), and Peitho (pronounced PYE-tho; “persuasion”).

Major Myths

According to most stories, the Graces were the children of Zeus (pronounced ZOOS) and Eurynome (pronounced yoo-RIN-uh-mee), a daughter of the Titans Oceanus (pronounced oh-SEE-uh-nuhs) and Tethys (pronounced TEE-this). In some myths, however, the Graces' parents were Zeus and Hera (pronounced HAIR-uh). The Graces always appeared as a group rather than as separate individuals. They were also frequently linked with the Muses (pronounced MYOO-siz), 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 (pronounced af-ro-DYE-tee), the goddess of love, and appeared among the attendants of the gods Apollo (pronounced uh-POL-oh), Dionysus (pronounced dye-uh-NYE-suhs), and Hermes (pronounced HUR-meez). They entertained the gods by dancing to the music of Apollo's lyre, an ancient stringed musical instrument. At times, the Graces were considered the official goddesses of music, dance, and poetry.

The Graces in Context

The Graces were meant to embody the characteristics that ancient Greeks considered attractive in young women. The ideal young woman was not only beautiful, but also a source of good cheer and brightness of spirit. Girls were expected to never show an ill mood, because it was considered an ugly quality that would repel any possible suitors.

Key Themes and Symbols

The Graces represent beauty, joy, and the arts. They also symbolize the way in which beauty and happiness were considered to be fundamentally connected by the ancient Greeks, as the Graces are always shown together and usually holding hands. They are also seen as symbols of youth, creativity, and fertility.

The Graces in Art, Literature, and Everyday Life

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. The Graces have been painted by Raphael, Rubens, and Paul Cezanne among others, and appear in a well-known sculpture by Antonio Canova. One of the most famous paintings of the Graces is Primavera by Sandro Botticelli, an Italian artist of the late 1400s.

Read, Write, Think, Discuss

In ancient Greece, the Graces functioned as role models for young women, offering an example of ideal behaviors and qualities. What qualities do you think the most popular modern role models for young women exhibit? How do they compare to the qualities of the Graces? Which do you think provides a better example to follow, and why?

SEE ALSO Apollo; Greek Mythology; Muses; Roman Mythology

views updated

Graces

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

views updated

Graces In Greek mythology, three goddesses who represented intellectual pleasures: beauty, grace, and charm. Associated especially with poetry, Aglaia, Euphrosyne and Thalia were often linked with the Muses. They were also described as daughters or granddaughters of Zeus.

views updated

graces be in someone's good (or bad) graces be regarded by someone with favour (or disfavour).

See also the Three Graces at three.