The Charites Origin
The Charites are a set of goddesses born from Zeus and Eurynome. A Charis, or known to the Romans as a Grace, is a goddess that represents something related to charm and nature.
These goddesses are known for their beauty and for their goodwill. They inspire human creativity, and it is true that they are featured in so many forms of human artwork and have been since Antiquity.
The three primary Charites according to Hesiod are Aglaea, Euphrosyne, and Thalia. Homer identifies the Charites as part of the group who serve the goddess Aphrodite.
The Named Charites
Aglaea’s name means Brilliant, Shining One. Euphrosyne’s name means Joyful One. Thalia’s name means Blooming One or Abundant One.
In addition to the main three from Hesiod, there are others as well. Damia (whose name means Earth Mother), Auxesia (whose name means Spring Growth), Cleta (whose name means Renowned), Phaenna (whose name means Bright), Hegemone (whose name means Leader), Pietho (whose name means Persuasion), Paregoros (whose name means Consolation), Pasithea (whose name means Relaxation), Charis (whose name means Grace), and Kale (whose name means Beauty).
According to ancient paintings in pottery, it is attested there could be even more. Antheia (whose name means Blossoms), Eudaimonia (whose name means Happiness), Euthymia (whose name means Good Mood), Eutychia (whose name means Good Luck), Paidia (whose name means Play), Pandaisia (whose name means Banquet), and Pannychis (whose name means Night Festivals). All of these versions of the Charites, or perhaps additional Charites, are understood to be representatives who announce the beginnings of games, events, and festivals.
Were The Charites Worshipped?
Beyond the fact that the Charites are shown in so much artwork throughout human history, are they thoroughly worshiped in other ways as well? According to Pausanias, yes they are!
Pausanias tells that the first man to worship the Charites was a man named Eteocles. Eteocles was the King of Boetia sometime before 1200 BC (when Classical Boetia collapsed). Eteocles sacrificed to them and they continued the tradition after him.
Ever since Eteocles’s original sacrifice to the Charites, the practice spread out across Boetia and also went to Laconia, Athens, and the island of Delos. Artwork and sculpting over the centuries began to depict them more and more, and soon songs would be dedicated to them as well.
Poets and writers of ancient Greece began to dedicate all kinds of passages to them, even Homer makes references to the Charites in his writings. Homer is also the one who tells us the story of Pasithea and Hypnos, which is one of the known instances of a Grace actually taking a consort. In some writings, one of the Graces is said to become wife of Hephaestus.
Do The Charites Play A Significant Role In Mythology?
Well, typically the Charites would be attendants to the Olympian Gods during celebrations and meals. But most commonly, they are the attendants of Aphrodite. They bathe her, anoint her, create clothes for her, and bring her jewelry. They also brought lots of jewelry to Pandora to make her more tempting to the eye.
According to Pindar’s accounts, the Charites would actually arrange the feasts and dances FOR the Olympians, rather than simply just being those who worked at them. Also, they were the ones who celebrated the births of deities. They are accounted as having celebrated the birth of Apollo and Artemis, the birth of Hebe, and the birth of Harmonia.
They also love to dance and sing with the Muses, who are also known for being related to the arts in many ways. Sometimes Apollo will join them in the dancing.
The Charites are also known to obey Hera and are connected to her because she was the one who raised them, even though their true mother is Eurynome. Hera is also the one that arranges Pasithea’s marriage to Hypnos.