Nemesis: Goddess of Vengeance from Greek Mythology


     Nemesis is, in Greek Mythology, the Goddess of Vengeance. She is the daughter of Nix (the night) with Oceano. In itself, she was not a bad deity, she just did what had to be done.

Nemesis in Greek Mythology:

     Nemesis, in Greek Mythology according to Hesiod, was one of the daughters of the goddess Nix (the night). Pausânias cited Nemesis as the daughter of the titans Oceano and Tethys. Late authors put her as the daughter of Zeus and Themis. She is the goddess who personifies divine destiny, balance and vengeance.

     Although Nemesis was born into the family of most of the dark gods, she lived on Mount Olympus and featured divine vengeance. Nemesis was also called "the inevitable", and was represented as a beautiful winged woman. She was sometimes merged with Themis, goddess of justice, and Aphrodite when she took revenge on Narcissus for having hurt the hearts of several girls. Her appearance is also similar to that of several other goddesses such as Demeter and Artemis, which means that Nemesis, like other gods who only personify abstract concepts, did not receive individual worship.

Nemesis Shrine:

     In Ramnunte (a small town in Attica not far from Marathon located on the shore of the strait that separates Attica from Evia Island) Nemesis had a celebrated sanctuary, which at the same time was a temple of Themis. The statues of the two goddesses were carved together by Phidias (the most beautiful statues of Themis and Nemesis) on a marble block from Paros brought by the Persians and intended to make a trophy.

     According to the ancient Greek religion, the Persians had been too sure of victory denoting immoderation (hubris), and never took Athens, in favor of which Nemesis took sides. Nemesis encouraged the Athenian Marathon army. Other locations of which Nemesis was patron were the Anatolian cities of Ephesus and Smyrna (city that may have been its origin) as well as the island of Samos.

Nemesis Myth:

     Nemesis represents the force in charge of killing all the immoderation (hubris), such as the excess of happiness of a mortal or the pride of kings, for example. This is a fundamental conception of the Hellenic spirit:

"Everything that rises above its condition, both good and evil, is exposed to reprisals from the gods. It tends, in effect, to subvert the order of the world, to endanger the universal balance and, therefore, has to be punished, if the universe is to remain as it is. "

Zeus and Nemesis:

     In a version of the myth of the origin of Helena de Troia, Zeus once felt an enormous passion for Nemesis due to her beauty and resolved in every way to possess the goddess. The latter sought to avoid union with Zeus by becoming a geese, but the god eventually became a swan and they came together. The geese laid an egg, the fruit of that union, and abandoned it. Some shepherds found the egg and gave it to Leda, queen of Sparta to hatch it with her own eggs (fruits of her union with Zeus, in the form of a swan). From the egg laid by Nemesis, Helena of Sparta was born.

     Nemesis was the goddess who punished King Croesus of Lydia. Croesus, who was too happy with his wealth, was led by Nemesis to undertake an expedition against Ciro, which ended up bringing him ruin and disgrace.

     Another victim of punishment sent by Nemesis was Narcissus. Too happy with his own beauty, Narcissus despised love. The girls despised by Narcissus asked Nemesis for revenge, who heard them and caused a strong heat. After a hunt, Narcissus leaned over a fountain to drink. In it he saw her beautiful face and, in love with her own beauty, languished to death through impossible love.