Three Graces. In Greek mythology, a Charis or Grace is one of three or more minor goddesses of charm, beauty, nature, human creativity, and fertility, together known as the Charites or Graces. The usual list, from oldest to youngest, is Aglaea, Euphrosyne, and Thalia. In Roman mythology they were known as the Gratiae, the Graces. In some variants, Charis was one of the Graces and was not the singular form of their name. The Charites were usually considered the daughters of Zeus and Eurynome, though they were also said to be daughters of Dionysus and Aphrodite or of Helios and the naiad Aegle. Other possible names of their mother by Zeus are Eurydome, Eurymedousa, and Euanthe. Homer wrote that they were part of the retinue of Aphrodite. The Charites were also associated with the Greek underworld and the Eleusinian Mysteries. The river Cephissus near Delphi was sacred to the three goddesses. Although the Graces usually numbered three, according to the Spartans, Cleta, not Thalia, was the third, and other Graces are sometimes mentioned, including Damia, Auxesia, Cleta, Phaenna, Hegemone, Peitho, Paregoros, Pasithea and Charis or Cale. An ancient vase painting attests the following names as five: Antheia, Eudaimonia, Euthymia, Eutychia, Paidia, Pandaisia, Pannychis, all referring to the Charites as patronesses of amusement and festivities. Pausanias interrupts his Description of Greece to expand upon the various conceptions of the Graces that had developed in different parts of mainland Greece and Ionia: The Boeotians say that Eteocles was the first man to sacrifice to the Graces. Moreover, they are aware that he established three as the number of the Graces, but they have no tradition of the names he gave them. The Lacedaemonians, however, say that the Graces are two, and that they were instituted by Lacedaemon, son of Taygete, who gave them the names of Cleta and Phaenna. These are appropriate names for Graces, as are those given by the Athenians, who from of old have worshipped two Graces, Auxo and Hegemone, until Hermesianax added Peitho as a third. It was from Eteocles of Orchomenus that we learned the custom of praying to three Graces. And Angelion and Tectaus, sons of Dionysus, who made the image of Apollo for the Delians, set three Graces in his hand. Again, at Athens, before the entrance to the Acropolis, the Graces are three in number; by their side are celebrated mysteries which must not be divulged to the many. Pamphos was the first we know of to sing about the Graces, but his poetry contains no information either as to their number or about their names. Homer makes one the wife of Hephaestus, giving her the name of Charis. He also says that Sleep was a lover of Pasithea, and in the speech of Sleep there is this verse: Verily that he would give me one of the younger Graces. Hence some have suspected that Homer knew of older Graces as well. Hesiod in the Theogony says that the three Graces are daughters of Zeus and Eurynome, giving them the names of Aglaia, Euphrosyne and lovely Thalia. The poem of Onomacritus agrees with this account. Antimachus, while giving neither the number of the Graces nor their names, says that they are daughters of Aegle and the Sun. The elegiac poet Hermesianax disagrees with his predecessors in that he makes Persuasion also one of the Graces. Nonnus gives their three names as Pasithea, Peitho and Aglaia. Sostratus gives the names as Pasithea, Cale and Euphrosyne; Pasithea for Aglaia and Cale for Thalia, Euphrosyne is unchanged. The Charites were most commonly depicted in the sanctuaries of other gods, but they did have their own temples as well, and at least four temples exclusively to them are known from Greece. The two main cult centres of the Charites were the town of Orkhomenos in northern Boiotia, and the Aegean island of Paros. There were temples to the Charites in Hermione, in Sparta and in Elis: There is also a sanctuary to the Kharites; the images are of wood, with their clothes gilded, while their faces, hands and feet are of white marble. One of them holds a rose, the middle one a die, and the third a small branch of myrtle. The reason for their holding these things may be guessed to be this. The rose and the myrtle are sacred to Aphrodite and connected with the story of Adonis, while the Kharites are of all deities the nearest related to Aphrodite. As for the die, it is the plaything of youths and maidens, who have nothing of the ugliness of old age. On the right of the Kharites is an image of Eros, standing on the same pedestal.