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The Graces

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The Graces

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Since their name means Grace these three beautiful daughters of Zeus and Eurynome are often called The Graces. Their names are Aglaia (Aglaea) [Splendor], Euphrosyne [Festivity], and Thaleia (Thalia) [Rejoicing].

They wove the material for Aphrodite's robe. They also tended to Aphrodite when she returned to the island of Kypros (Cyprus), humiliated after she had been caught in the trap her husband, Hephaistos (Hephaestus), had set to catch her and Ares [god of War] in the embrace of love. The Graces bathed her, anointed her with ambrosial oil and dressed her in delightful clothing so that she might resume her loving duties.

The robe the Graces made for Aphrodite was not described in detail but there was another robe made by the Graces that became part of the Quest for the Golden Fleece … it was a crimson robe made by the Graces for the god Dionysos.

When Jason and the Argonauts began their Quest for the Golden Fleece, they stopped on the island of Lemnos where they were welcomed by the husbandless women of the island … Jason became the lover of Queen Hypsipyle. As he was leaving, Hypsipyle presented Jason with the crimson robe that had been passed down from Dionysos to her father Thasos. When Thasos fled the island he gave the robe to his daughter Hypsipyle, who in turn gave it to Jason as a token of her affection.

The robe is mentioned three times in The Argonautika. When Queen Hypsipyle gave the robe to Jason, it was described as beautiful to look upon, with a texture that was irresistible to the touch. Hypsipyle told Jason that the Graces made the robe for Dionysos while he was on the island of Dia with Ariadne, daughter of King Minos of Crete. The robe emitted a fragrance that was reminiscent of the wine and ambrosia that Dionysos and Ariadne shared when he wore the robe.

The second time the robe was mentioned was when Jason wore the sacred garment as he was performing a ritual for the Roaring Goddess Hekate (Hecate). The ceremony was solemn in order to display the greatest respect for the goddess so that she would protect Jason in his upcoming confrontation with some supernatural creatures.

The third instance where the robe was mentioned in the The Argonautika was less noble then invoking a goddess. Jason and Princess Medeia (Medea) used the robe as a lure for Medeia's half-brother Apsyrtos (Apsyrtus) … he accepted their offer in good faith and was cruelly murdered for his bad judgment. After that incident, the crimson robe made by the Graces disappeared from the historical record.

Homer used the beauty of the Graces ironically to depict the horror of war when he described a dead Trojan soldier's hair as being 'lovely as the Graces' before it was splattered with blood and mingled with the dirt.

Graces are often confused with the Roman goddesses, the Gratiae.

The Graces in The Iliad

[from four different translations]

Richmond Lattimore

Loeb Classical Library

Robert Fagles

Robert Fitzgerald

The Graces

The Graces in The Odyssey

[from four different translations]

Richmond Lattimore

Loeb Classical Library

Robert Fagles

Robert Fitzgerald

The Graces

Other Text References

Theogony

The Astronomy

The Kypria

The Argonautika by Apollonius Rhodius

The Graces

The Graces dance at the Acropolis of Athens.

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