"Gray women." That is, "the old women," were daughters of Phorcys and Ceto. They had gray hair from their birth. Hesiod1 mentions only two Graeae, viz. Pephredo and Enyo; Apollodorus2 adds Deino as a third, and Aeschylus3 also speaks of three Graeae. The Scholiast on Aeschylus4 describes the Graeae, or Phorcides, as he calls them, as having the figure of swans, and he says that the three sisters had only one tooth and one eye in common, which they borrowed from one another when they wanted them. It is commonly believed that the Graeae, like other members of the family of Phorcys, were marine divinities, and personifications of the white foam seen on the waves of the sea.

Perseus visits them in their cave under the Atlas Mountains and took the eye and the tooth to force them to show him the way to their sisters the Gorgons.



  1. Theogony, 270 ff.
  2. The Library ii, 4.2.
  3. Prometheus Bound, 819.
  4. ibid., 793


  • Smith, William. (1870). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. London: Taylor, Walton, and Maberly.

This article incorporates text from Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology (1870) by William Smith, which is in the public domain.