AGLAIA (Aglaea) was one of the three Kharites (Charites) and the goddess of beauty, splendour, glory and adornment.
She was the wife of the god Hephaistos (Hephaestus) and the mother of four younger Kharites named Eukleia (Eucleia, Good-Repute), Euthenia (Praise), Eupheme (Eloquence) and Philophrosyne (Welcome). Aglaia was also named Kharis (Charis, Grace) and Kale (Calé, Beauty).
FAMILY OF AGLAEA
AGLAEA (Aglaia). Charis, the personification of Grace and Beauty. Homer, without giving her any other name, describes a Charis as the wife of Hephaestus. (Il. xviii. 382.) Hesiod (Theog. 945) calls the Charis who is the wife of Hephaestus, Aglaia, and the youngest of the Charites. (Comp. Eustath. ad Hom. p. 1148.) According to the Odyssey, on the other hand, Aphrodite was the wife of Hephaestus, from which we may infer, if not the identity of Aphrodite and Charis, at least a close connexion and resemblance in the notions entertained about the two divinities. Sostratus (ap. Eustath. ad Hom. p. 1665) relates that Aphrodite and the three Charites, Pasithea, Cale, and Euphrosyne, disputed about their beauty with one another, and when Teiresias awarded the prize to Cale he was changed by Aphrodite into an old woman, but Cale rewarded him with a beautiful head of hair and took him to Crete. The name Cale in this passage has led some critics to think that Homer also (Il. xviii. 393) mentions the names of two Charites, Pasithea and Cale, and that kalê should accordingly be written by a capital initial.
Source: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.
CLASSICAL LITERATURE QUOTES
Homer, Iliad 18. 382 ff (trans. Lattimore) (Greek epic C8th B.C.) :
"Thetis of the silver feet came to the house of Hephaistos (Hephaestus) . . . As he was at work . . . the goddess Thetis the silver-footed drew near him. Kharis (Charis, Grace) of the shining veil saw her as she came forward, she, the lovely goddess the renowned strong-armed one had married. She came, and caught her hand and called her by name and spoke to her : ‘Why is it, Thetis of the light robes, you have come to our house now? We honour you and love you; but you have not come much before this. But come in with me so I may put entertainment before you.’
She spoke, and, shining among divinities, led the way forward and made Thetis sit down in a chair that was wrought elaborately and splendid with silver nails, and under it was a footstool. She called to Hephaistos the renowned smith and spoke a word to him : ‘Hephaistos, come this way; here is Thetis, who has need of you.’
Hearing her the renowned smith of the strong arms answered her : ‘Then there is a goddess we honour and respect in our house. She saved me when I suffered much at the time of my great fall through the will of my own brazen-faced mother, who wanted to hide me for being lame . . . Now she has come into our house; so I must by all means do everything to give recompense to lovely-haired Thetis for my life. Therefore set out before her fair entertainment.’"
Hesiod, Theogony 907 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or C7th B.C.) :
"And Eurynome, the daughter of Okeanos (Oceanus), beautiful in form, bare him [Zeus] three fair-cheeked Kharites (Charites, Graces), Aglaia (Aglaea), and Euphrosyne, and lovely Thalie (Thalia), from whose eyes as they glanced flowed love that unnerves the limbs : and beautiful is their glance beneath their brows."
Hesiod, Theogony 945 ff :
"And Hephaistos (Hephaestus), the famous Lame One, made Aglaia (Aglaea), youngest of the Kharites (Charites, Graces), his buxom wife."
Pindar, Olympian Ode 14. 1 ff (trans. Conway) (Greek lyric C5th B.C.) :
"Whose haunts are by Kephissos' (Cephisus') river, you queens [the Kharites] beloved of poets' song, ruling Orkhomenos (Orchomenus), that sunlit city and land of lovely steeds, watch and ward of the ancient Minyan race, hear now my prayer, you Kharites (Charites, Graces) three. For in your gift are all our mortal joys, and every sweet thing, be it wisdom, beauty, or glory, that makes rich the soul of man. Nor even can the immortal gods order at their behest the dance and festals, lacking the Kharites' aid; who are the steward of all rites of heaven, whose thrones are set at Pytho beside Apollon of the golden bow, and who with everlasting honour worship the Father, lord of great Olympos. Euphrosyne, lover of song, and Aglaia (Aglaea) revered, daughters of Zeus the all-highest, hearken, and with Thalia, darling of harmony, look on our songs of revel, on light feet stepping to grace this happy hour . . . I come to praise Asopikhos (Asopichus), whose Minyan house, Thalia, now of your favour wears the pride of the Olympian victor."
Bacchylides, Fragment 3 (trans. Campbell, Vol. Greek Lyric IV) (Greek lyric C5th B.C.) :
"Hiero's swift horses, Olympic runners: they sped in the company of pre-eminent Nikai (Victories) and Aglaiai (Aglaeae, Glories) by the wide-eddying Alpheus."
The Anacreontea , Fragment 19 (trans. Campbell, Vol. Greek Lyric II) (Greek lyric C5th to 4th B.C.) :
"The Mousai (Muses) tied Eros (Love) with garlands and handed him over to Kalleis (Calleis, Beauty). And now Kythereia (Cytherea) [Aphrodite] brings a ransom and seeks to have him released."
Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 1. 13 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"By Okeanos' (Oceanus') daughter Eurynome he [Zeus] had the Kharites (Charites, Graces), named Aglaia (Aglaea), Eurphrosyne, and Thaleia (Thalia)."
Callimachus, Fragment 471 (from Scholiast V on Homer's Iliad 18. 399) (trans. Trypanis) (Greek poet C3rd B.C.) :
"[On Kharis (Charis), Hephaistos's wife in the Iliad :] Some said that Eurynome Titanias (the Titaness) was her mother."
Pausanias, Description of Greece 5. 11. 1 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"[Among the images decorating the throne of Zeus in his temple at Olympia :] On the pedestal supporting the throne and Zeus with all his adornments are works in gold : . . . Hephaistos (Hephaestus), and by his side a Kharis (Charis)."
Pausanias, Description of Greece 9. 35. 1 :
"Homer, he too refers to the Kharites (Charites, Graces), makes one the wife of Hephaistos (Hephaestus), giving her the name Kharis (Charis) . . . Hence some have suspected that Homer knew of older Kharites as well. Hesiod in the Theogony says that the Kharites are daughters of Zeus and Eurynome, giving them the names of Euphrosyne, Aglaia (Aglaea) and Thalia."
Orphic Hymn 60 to the Charites (trans. Taylor) (Greek hymns C3rd B.C. to 2nd A.D.) :
"Illustrious Kharites (Charites, Graces), mighty named, from Zeus descended, and Eunomia famed [here equated with Eurynome], Thalia and Aglaia (Aglaea) fair and bright, and blest Euphrosyne, whom joys delight."
Nonnus, Dionysiaca 24. 261 ff (trans. Rouse) (Greek epic C5th A.D.) :
"[The Kharites (Charites), Graces] the dancers of Orkhomenos (Orchomenus) who were attendants upon the Paphian [Aphrodite] had no dancing then to do [when Aphrodite entered a contest against Athena in weaving]; but Pasithea made the spindle run round, Peitho dressed the wool, Aglaia (Aglaea) gave thread and yarn to her mistress. And weddings went all astray in human life."
Nonnus, Dionysiaca 29. 330 ff :
"[Ares is visited by a false dream :] ‘Hephaistos (Hephaestus) lies again in his bed and possesses Aphrodite, once yours! He has chased out of the house Kharis (Charis) his jealous bride.’"
Nonnus, Dionysiaca 33. 57 ff :
"Then sweetsmiling Aphrodite put off the wonted laugh from her radiant rosy face, and told her messenger Aglaia (Aglaea) to call Eros (Love) her son, that swift airy flyer, that guide to the fruitful increase of the human race. The Kharis (Charis, Grace) moved her footsteps, and turned her face this way over earth and sea and sky, if somewhere she might find the restless track of Eros--for he beats his wings everywhere circling the four separate regions of the universe [earth, sea and sky]. She found him on the golden top of Olympos, shooting the nectar-drops from a cup [playing cottabus and game in which wine was thrown out of cups at a mark]. Beside him stood Hymenaios (Hymenaeus), his fair-haired playfellow in the dainty game . . . [Eros won the contest and] Aglaia stood by him, and she received the prizes from the hands of the prince of heart's delight. She beckoned the boy aside, and with silence their only witness, she whispered into his ear the artful message of her intriguing mistress : ‘Allvanquisher unvanquished, preserver of life coeval with the universe, make haste! Kythereia (Cytherea) is in distress. None of her attendants has remained with her; Kharis (Charis, Grace) has gone, Peitho (Seduction) has vanished, Pothos (Sexual Longing) the inconstant has left her; she had none to send but me. She needs your invincible quiver!’
No sooner had she spoken, than Eros wanted to know all about it; for all young people, when they hear only the beginning of a story, are eager to hear the end. So he rattled out with that unbridled tongue of his--‘Who has hurt my dear Paphian? Let me take arms in hand and fight all the world!’
He spoke, and straight through the air he plied his feet, and reached the dwelling of eager Aphrodite long before Aglaia with his pair of whirring wings."
ANCIENT GREEK & ROMAN ART
- Homer, The Iliad - Greek Epic C8th B.C.
- Hesiod, Theogony - Greek Epic C8th - 7th B.C.
- Pindar, Odes - Greek Lyric C5th B.C.
- Greek Lyric II Anacreontea, Fragments - Greek Lyric C5th - 4th B.C.
- Greek Lyric IV Bacchylides, Fragments - Greek Lyric C5th B.C.
- Apollodorus, The Library - Greek Mythography C2nd A.D.
- Callimachus, Hymns - Greek Poetry C3rd B.C.
- Pausanias, Description of Greece - Greek Travelogue C2nd A.D.
- The Orphic Hymns - Greek Hymns C3rd B.C. - C2nd A.D.
- Nonnus, Dionysiaca - Greek Epic C5th A.D.