Nemesis was the ancient Greek goddess of divine retribution and revenge. She was the goddess of indignation against evil deeds and retribution for the same. She was the symbol of the bitterness and indignation aroused in men by those who committed crimes with apparent impunity or who had an inordinate good fortune which they do not deserve. Her name is related to the Greek word ‘némein’, which stands for ‘to give what is due’.
She was considered a remorseless goddess who would show her wrath to any human being that would commit arrogance before the gods. Although she was known as the goddess of revenge and represented the consequences one had to face for every single felony, she was never known to judge crime and criminals connected to personal vendettas. Her actions were aimed at maintaining a balance within human affairs, and she was the one who distributed happiness and, at the same time, dealt out misery. Her action was aimed to maintain equilibrium, to make sure that there was neither too much happiness nor too much sorrow. She was often called the Goddess of Rhamnus, a remote place in Africa, where a temple was dedicated to her.
Although Nemesis was a Greek goddess, she was sometimes invoked by the Romans, who called her Invidia, the goddess of jealousy. Often he was depicted as a winged goddess, but many ancient statues depicted her in Greco-Roman attire with a sword and a balance in her hands. However, apple-branch, rein, and lash are also believed to be her symbols. While she was believed to be the daughter of the primordial god Oceanus, according to the ancient Greek poet Hesiod, she was born to Erebus, the personification of the deep darkness and shadows, and Nyx (Ref nyx-greece), the Greek goddess of night, and one of the primordial first born gods of the Greek cosmos that preceded the Titans and the Olympians. Even though different sources consistently named Nyx as the mother of Nemesis, they were inconsistent about her father, since Zeus, Oceanus, and Erebus, all were described as Nemesis’s father. Strangely, some other sources claimed that Nemesis had no father at all. However, she was believed to be the sister of Moiria (the Fates), the Keres (the Black Fates), the Oneiroi (Dreams), Eris (Discord) and Apate (Deception).
According to some mythological stories, Nemesis was the mother of Helen of Troy and her twin sister Clytemnestra, while according to other sources, she was named as the mother of the twin brothers, Castor and Pollux. It is said that one day, on being chased by Zeus, Nemesis transformed herself into a goose, in her attempt to escape from unwanted sex. However, Zeus in his turn, transformed himself into a swan, caught Nemesis, and impregnated her. After that, Nemesis laid two eggs, each containing a set of twins.
There is another mythical story about Nemesis related to Narcissus. Born to the river god Cephissus and the nymph Liripe, Narcissus was distinguished for his beauty. He was celebrated for his beauty and attracted many beautiful girls, but in his arrogance, he spurned them all.
However, when he broke the heart of the nymph Echo, he earned the wrath of Nemesis, the goddess of revenge, and her curse caused him to fall in love with his own reflection in a pool. Consequently, Narcissus passed day after day gazing endlessly at his image in the pool, forgetting even about the basic needs of his life, about the need for food and sleep. Gradually he lost his charm, became lean and thin and ultimately died at the side of the pool.