GRACES, GRATLE, or CHARITIES, in the heathen mythology, were fabulous deities, and represented as three young and handsome sisters, attendant on Venus.
Their names are Aglaia or /Egle, Thalia, and Euphrosyne; e. shining, flourishing, and guy. They were supposed by some to be the daughters of Jupiter and Eurynome, the daughter of Oceanus, and by others to be the daughters of Bacchus and Venus. Vossins de Idol. lib. xiii. cap. 15. Homer (Iliad, lib, xiv.,) changes the name of one of the Graces, and calls her Pasithea ; and he is followed by Statics. (Theo. lib. ii.) Some will have the Graces to have been four, and make them the same with the horn, hours, or rather with the four seasons of the year.
The Lacedzemonians admitted only two of them, whom they worshipped under the names of Klyta, Meta, or Clita, ond Pliammi. The Athenians allowed the same number, but denominated them Auto and Ilegemone.
A marble in the king of Prussia's cabinet represents the Graces in the usual manner, with a finirth seated, and covered with a large veil, with the NVOrdS 1111110 I'lleath, AD SOROIIES 1111. Yet 011s. lieger will by no means allow the (;races to have been fur: the company there present, he understands to be the three Graces, and Venus, who was their sister, as being daughter or .Jupiter and Mine.
They are always supposed to have hold of each other's hands, and never parted. Thus Horace, (lib. iii. od. 21.) describes them : "Seguesque nodum solvers gratke." They were also represented in the attitude of persons dancing; whence Horace says (lib. i. od. 4): "Atterno terrain quatiunt pede." They were commonly thought to be young virgins. In the earlier ages they were represented only by mere stones, that were not cut ; but they were then represented under human figures, at first clad in gauze. The custom of giving them drapery was afterwards laid aside ; and they were painted naked, to show that the Graces borrow nothing from art, and that they have no other beauties than what are natural.
Yet, in the first ages, they were not represented naked, as appears from Pausanias, lib. vi. and ix., who describes their temple and statues. They were of wood, all but their head, feet, and hands, which were white marble. Their robes or gowns were gilt; one of them held in her hand rose, another a die, and the third a sprig of myrtle.
They had temples, as we learn from Pausanias, at Elis, Delphos Perga, Perinthus, 13yzantimn, and in several other places of Greece and Thrace. The temples consecrated to Cupid were likewise consecrated to the Graces : and it was also customary to give them a place in those of Mercury, in order to teach men, that even the god of eloquence needed their assistance. Indeed, sonic authors reckoned the goddess of Persuasion in the number of the Graces, thus intimating, that the great secret of persuasion is to please. The Muses and the Graces had commonly but one temple; and Pindar invokes the Graces almost as often as he does the Muses. Festivals were appropriated to their honour through the whole course of the year, but the spring was chiefly conse crated to than as well as to Venus. Greece abounded with monuments sacred to these goddesses; and their figures were to be seen in most cities, done by the greatest masters. They were also represented on many medals. The fitvours which these goddesses were thought to dispense to mankind, were not only a gored grace, gaiety, and equality of temper, hut also liberality, eloquence. and wisdom, as Pindar informs us; but the most noble of all the prerogatives of the Graces was, that they presided over all kindnesses and gratitude; inso much that, in almost all languages, their names are used to express both gratitude and favours.