In Greek mythology, a Charis or Grace is one of three or more minor goddesses of grace, charm, beauty, adornment, mirth, festivity, dance, song, nature, human creativity and fertility. Together they are known as the Charites or Graces. Their names were Aglaea (“Splendor”), Euphrosyne (Mirth), and Thalia (Good Cheer).
They were part of the advisors and assistants of Aphrodite and Hera. The Charites were also associated with the Greek underworld and the Eleusinian Mysteries.
Although the Graces usually numbered three, other Graces are sometimes mentioned, including Auxo (seasons and the natural portions of time), Hegemone (plants) , Peitho ( persuasion and seduction), Phaenna (brightness), Pasithea (relaxation, meditation and hallucinations), and Charis (grace and kindness). An ancient vase painting attests the following names as five: Antheia (Blossoms), Eudaimonia (Happiness), Paidia (Play), Pandaisia (Banquet) and Pannychis (Night Festivities). – The were the patronesses of amusement and festivities.
Of all the deities, the Charites (Graces) are the nearest to Aphrodite; for they were given the adornment of personal appearance and the embellishment of each part of the body; consequently, they are the very incarnation of beauty and grace; as was Aphrodite.
The character and nature of the Charites are sufficiently expressed by the names they bear. They were conceived as the goddesses who gave festive joy and enhanced the enjoyments of life by refinement and gentleness. Gracefulness and beauty in social intercourse are therefore attributed to them.
They are mostly described as being in the service or attendance of other divinities, just as real joy exists only in circles where the individual gives up his own self and makes it his main object to afford pleasure to others. The less beauty is ambitious to rule, the greater is its victory; and the less homage it demands, the more freely is it paid. These then seem to be the ideas embodied in the Charites. They lend their grace and beauty to everything that delights and elevates gods and men.
The most perfect works of art are called the works of the Charites and the greatest artists are their favorites. They also assist to give grace to eloquence and persuasion in speaking and writing and wisdom itself receives its charms from them.
Poetry is the art which is especially favored by them. They are the friends of the Muses; with whom they live in Olympus. Poets are inspired by the Muses, but the application of their songs to the embellishment of life and the festivals of the gods are the work of the Charites.