The Graeae ("old women" or "gray ones"), were three sisters, one of several trinities of archaic goddesses in Greek mythology. The Graeae were daughters of Phorcys, one aspect of the "old man of the sea," and Ceto, and thus were among the Phorcydes, all of which were archaic beings either of the sea or chthonic deities. The Graeae took the form of three grey-haired old women, though poets might give them the euphimistic designation "beautiful." Their age was so great a childhood for them was hardly conceivable.
Hesiod reports their names: Deino ("dread", the dreadful anticipation of horror), Enyo, ("horror" the "waster of cities" who had an identity separate from this sisterhood) and Pemphredo, ("alarm") (Theogony, 270 - 74; also Apollodorus,ii.4.2). Like another set of crones at the oldest levels of both Germanic and Norse mythology, they had but one eye and one tooth among them. These were shared and the sisters took turns in using them. By stealing their eye while they were passing it between them, the hero Perseus forced them to tell the whereabouts of their sisters, the Gorgons, ransoming the seeing eye for the information.
Alternative spellings: Graiai, Graiae, Graii
The Graeae can be compared with the three spinners of Destiny, the Moirae. Compare them with the northern European Norns or the Baltic goddess Laima and her two sisters.
Graeae is also the name of an influential British theatre company run by disabled actors.