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Charĭtes

Χάριτες) or Gratiae (Graces). Goddesses of grace, and of everything which lends charm and beauty to nature and human life. According to Hesiod, they are the offspring of Zeus and the daughter of Oceanus and Eurynomé. Their names are Euphrosyné (Joy), Thalia (Bloom), and Aglaïa (Brilliance). Aglaïa is the youngest, and the wife of Hephaestus; for the inspiration of the Graces was deemed as necessary to the plastic arts as to music, poetry, science, eloquence, beauty, and enjoyment of life. Accordingly, the Graces are intimate with the Muses, with whom they live together on Olympus. They are associated, too, with Apollo, Athené, Hermes, and Peitho, but especially with Eros, Aphrodité, and Dionysus. Bright and blithe-hearted, they were also called the daughters of the Sun and of Aeglé (Gleam). They were worshipped in conjunction with Aphrodité and Dionysus at Orchomenus in Boeotia, where their shrine was accounted the oldest in the place, and where their most ancient images were found in the shape of stones said to have fallen from heaven. It was here that the feast of the Charitesia was held in their honour, with musical contests. At Sparta, as at Athens, two Charites only were worshipped, Cleta, or Sound, and Phaënna, or Light; at Athens their names were Auxo (Increase) and Hegemoné (Queen). It was by these goddesses, and by Agraulos daughter of Cecrops, that the Athenian youths, on receiving their spear and shield, swore faith to their country. The Charites were represented in the form of beautiful maidens, the three being generally linked hand in hand. In the older representations they are clothed; in the later, they are loosely clad or entirely undraped.

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