|In Greek mythology, Nemesis was the goddess of
retribution. She is either the daughter of Nyx (the goddess of
Night), or the Titans Oceanus (the god of the ocean) and Tethys (as
the goddess of fortune).
The poet Hesiod makes reference to the power of some other
daughters of Nyx, including the Fates. The Fates were known as
handlers of the threads of life. Clotho was the spinner, determining
the time of birth; Lachesis was the drawer of lots, determining the
length of life; and Atropos was the cutter of the threads that
represented the inevitable end to life. If the Fates were resisted,
the goddess of justice, Nemesis, determined the outcome.
Nemesis directed human affairs in such a way
as to maintain equilibrium. Happiness and unhappiness were measured
out by her, care being taken that happiness was not too frequent or
too excessive. Along with Dike and Themis,
Nemesis was one of the assistants of Zeus, who was regarded as the
founder of law and order.
sometimes appeared as a winged goddess. In her left hand she held an
apple-branch, rein, lash, sword, or balance. Her attributes were
like those of Tykhe: a wheel and a ship's rudder.
There is another aspect to the tale of Nemesis, and that was her
role as one of the many paramours of the god Zeus. According to one
source of the legend, Zeus (who was always fond of beautiful
females) became enamored of the goddess. However Nemesis wanted
nothing to do with him. She tried to flee from the god's unwelcome
advances by transforming herself into a series of fish and animals.
Finally, Zeus caught the object of his affection in the form of a
swan while Nemesis was in the guise of a goose. In these shapes the
pair mated, and as a result Nemesis later laid an egg from which the
famous beauty Helen of Troy was hatched.
There are also indications that Nemesis was patroness of
gladiators who fought in the arenas with the wild beasts during the
imperial times and was also worshipped at Rome by victorious