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Alfred Rethel (1816–1859) Title: Nemesis Date 1837

The personification of divine justice and the vengeance of the Gods. Called the daughter of Night. She represented the righteous anger of the gods against the proud and haughty and against breakers of the law no one can escape her power.

Nemesis, also called the goddess of Rhamnous, at her sanctuary at Rhamnous, north of Marathon, in the Greek mythology was the spirit of divine retribution against those who succumb to hubris, vengeful fate personified as a remorseless goddess.


Inexorable divine retribution is a major theme in the Hellenic world view, providing the unifying theme of the tragedies of Sophocles and many other literary works. In some metaphysical mythology, Nemesis produced the egg from which hatched two sets of twins: Helen of Troy and Clytemnestra, and the Dioscuri, Castor (Kástor) and Polydeukes (Polydeúkes).

As the “Goddess of Rhamnous”, Nemesis was honoured and placated in an archaic sanctuary in the isolated district of Rhamnous in northeastern Attica. There she was a daughter of Oceanus, the primeval river-ocean that encircles the world.

The word Nemesis originally meant the distributor of fortune, neither good nor bad, simply in due proportion to each according to his deserts; then, nemesis came to suggest the resentment caused by any disturbance of this right proportion, the sense of justice which could not allow it to pass unpunished.

In the Greek tragedies Nemesis appears chiefly as the avenger of crime and the punisher of hubris, and as such is akin to Ate and the erinyes. She was sometimes called Adrasteia, probably meaning “one from whom there is no escape”; her epithet Erinys (“implacable”) is specially applied to Demeter and the Phrygian mother goddess, Cybele.

A festival called Nemeseia was held at Athens. Its object was to avert the nemesis of the dead, who were supposed to have the power of punishing the living, if their cult had been in any way neglected.

Nemesis has been described as the daughter of Oceanus or Zeus, but according to Hesiod she was a child of Erebus and Nyx. She has also been described as the daughter of Nyx alone. Her cult may have originated at Smyrna.


For Statistics see Alastor

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