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The three graces
relief at the temple of Aphrodite in Aphrodisias , 1st century BC. Chr.
The three graces - detail from Primavera by Sandro Botticelli, around 1482/1487
The Three Graces
( Lucas Cranach the Elder , 1530)
Three Graces
( Antonio Canova , 1812–1816, Hermitage , Saint Petersburg)
Three Graces
( Ernemann Sander , 1976, Dreieck, Bonn )
Three Graces
(Jerzy Buczkowski, 1989, Bydgoszcz )
Le Tre Grazie
Enrico Tarenghi (1848–1938)

The Charites (Χάριτες Chárites , singular Charis ) are only "sub-goddesses" and servants of the main gods in Greek mythology , who are associated with Aphrodite , but also Hermes and Apollo . In Roman mythology they correspond to the three graces , lat. Gratiae .

They are daughters of Zeus and the Eurynomial and are called Euphrosyne (the "cheerful one"), Thalia (the "blooming one") and Aglaia (the "radiant one"). They brought grace, beauty and festivity to men and gods. The three Charites or Graces were a popular subject in the visual arts and were mostly depicted unclothed, touching or hugging each other. One of the most famous paintings - " The Three Graces " (Chantilly, Musée Condé) - is by Raffael .


According to Cornutus , de natura deorum , the name is derived from the Greek chara "joy", the Greek verb for this is chairein ("to be happy") → Latin gratia .

The Roman philosopher Seneca understands the movements of the three graces as a complete representation of generosity.

The descent

Most of the ancient sources agree on Zeus as a father, but mention as a mother:

According to other genealogies, the Charites are also referred to as daughters of Nyx and Erebos , Hecate and Hermes or those of the nymph Aigle and the sun god Helios (according to Antimachos ). As moon deities (see below), they are said to have Uranus as their father.

In Nonnos of Panopolis Dionysiaka occur Dionysos and Hera on as a parent.

In Roman mythology the graces are daughters of Bacchus or Liber and Venus ( Virgil ).

Number and special names

“Originally there was probably only one Charis. She appears as the wife of Hephaestus [Vulcanus, ed.], Which is probably to be understood to mean that the maker of charming works of art is assigned the personified charm (= charis). "

According to Pausanias (Greek writer of the 2nd century AD), some ancient sources name only two Charites:

a) How the Athenians venerated them since ancient times:

  • Auxo ("the growing, increasing")
  • Hegemone ("the advancing, leading")

b) How they worshiped the Lacedaemonians in Laconia :

  • Phaenna ("the shiny, shining one")
  • Kleta ("the called one")

In both cases the names refer to the phases of the moon (which was "called" with noise during new moon festivals).

Like Hesiod, most ancient sources name three Charites or Graces (from the youngest to the oldest):

  • Aglaia ("the shiny one"), in the Iliad (under the generic name Charis ) and in Hesiod's wife of Hephaestus
  • Euphrosyne ("happiness"), also called Euphrone according to Cornutus,
  • Thalia ("Festfreude"), not to be confused with Thalia , the muse for comedy, daughter of Zeus and Mnemosyne .

According to Pausanias, a grace called Peitho or Suadela comes fourth in some sources or is named instead of Euphrosyne according to Aristophanes .

In Homer's Iliad two Graces occur:

  • Pasithea , who is promised to be the wife of the sleep god Hypnos by Hera
  • Aglaia , under the generic name Charis as the wife of Hephaestus

See also

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Oskar Bätschmann and Sandra Gianfreda (eds.): Leon Battista Alberti - About the art of painting . Darmstadt 2002, ISBN 3-534-15151-8 , pp. 24 : "The poet Boccaccio (1581) describes them as daughters of" Venus magna ", the virtuous goddess of love - in contrast to the voluptuous" Venus secunda "(note 88, p. 53)"
  2. Ezek. Th. 907-908; Break. 9, 35, 3-5.
  3. Orpheus , Hymni . The poems available under Orpheus' name - as Argonautica, Hymni and de lapidibus published in Leipzig in 1764 by Johann Matthias Gesner - do not come from Orpheus.
  4. Cornutus : de natura deorum .
  5. Lutatius to Stat. Theb. I, 286. Lutatius wrote interpretations on Statius .
  6. pause. 9, 35, 596.
  7. Karl Kerényi : The Mythology of the Greeks , Volume I, p. 81.
  8. Nonnos of Panopolis Dionysiaka 15.87; 31,103ff; 33.37.
  9. ^ Servius to Virg. Aen. I, 720. Servius , Latin language teacher from the 4th century, wrote interpretations on Virgil . According to Hederich , keyword Servius , Pieter Burman's edition of the Virgil Commentary is the “most correct”.
  10. Hom. Il. 18, 382f.
  11. Hunger: Lexicon of Greek and Roman Mythology, p. 89.
  12. Hom. Il. 18, 368ff
  13. Hom. Il. 14, 231ff
  14. Hom. Il. 18, 368ff


  • Benjamin Hederich : Thorough mythological lexicon. Gleditsch, Leipzig 1770; Reprint Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 1996, ISBN 3-534-13053-7 .
  • Herbert Hunger : Lexicon of Greek and Roman Mythology. With references to the continued effect of ancient materials and motifs in the visual arts, literature and music of the West up to the present. 6th expanded and supplemented edition. Hamburg, Rowohlt 1974, ISBN 3-499-16178-8 .
  • Nicola Kaminski: Charites. In: Maria Moog-Grünewald (Ed.): Mythenrezeption. The ancient mythology in literature, music and art from the beginnings to the present (= Der Neue Pauly . Supplements. Volume 5). Metzler, Stuttgart / Weimar 2008, ISBN 978-3-476-02032-1 , pp. 184-190.
  • Karl Kerényi : The Mythology of the Greeks. Volume I. dtv, Munich 1984, ISBN 3-423-01345-1 .
  • Veronika Mertens: The three graces. Studies on a picture motif in modern art. Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden 1994, ISBN 3-447-03435-1 .

Web links

Commons : Graces  - album with pictures, videos and audio files