RAMNOUS (Ancient demos) ATTIKI
A post-Homeric personification of the moral indignation felt at all derangements of the natural equilibrium of things, whether by extraordinarily good fortune or by the arrogance usually attendant thereon. According to Hesiod (Theog. 223) she is the daughter of Night (Nyx), and with Aidos, the goddess of Modesty, left the earth on the advent of the Iron Age. A legend makes her to have been by Zeus the mother of Helen and the Dioscuri (Athen. p. 334). As goddess of due proportion she hates every transgression of the bounds of moderation, and restores the proper and normal order of things. As, in doing this, she punishes wanton boastfulness, she is a divinity of chastisement and vengeance. She enjoyed special honour in the Attic district of Rhamnus (where she was believed to be the daughter of Oceanus), and is often called the Rhamnusian goddess. Her statue there (of which fragments were found in 1890) was said to have been executed by Phidias out of a block of Parian marble which the Persians had brought with them in presumptuous confidence to Marathon, to erect a trophy of victory there. She was also called Adrastia, that name appropriate only to the Phrygian Rhea-Cybele, being interpreted as a Greek word with the meaning, "She whom none can escape". She was also worshipped at Rome, especially by victorious generals, and was represented as a meditative, thoughtful maiden with the attributes of proportion and control (a measuring-rod, a bridle, and a yoke), of punishment (a sword and scourge), and of swiftness (wings, a wheel, and a chariot drawn by griffins).
This text is from: Harry Thurston Peck, Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities. Cited Sep 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks
Nemesis, is most commonly described as a daughter of Night, though some call her
a daughter of Erebus (Hygin. Fab. praef.) or of Oceanus (Tzetz. ad Lyc. 88; Paus.
i. 33.3, vii. 5.1). Nemesis is a personification of the moral reverence for law,
of the natural fear of committing a culpable action, and hence of conscience,
and for this reason she is mentioned along with Aidos, i. e. Shame (Hes. Theog.
223, Op. et D. 183). In later writers, as Herodotus and Pindar, Nemesis is a kind
of fatal divinity, for she directs human affairs in such a manner as to restore
the right proportions or equilibrium wherever it has been disturbed; she measures
out happiness and unhappiness, and he who is blessed with too many or too frequent
gifts of fortune, is visited by her with losses and sufferings, in order that
he may become humble, and feel that there are bounds beyond which human happiness
cannot proceed with safety. This notion arose from a belief that the gods were
envious of excessive human happiness (Herod. i. 34, iii. 40; Pind. Ol. viii. in
fin., Pytth. x. 67). Nemesis was thus a check upon extravagant favours conferred
upon man by Tyche or Fortune, and from this idea lastly arose that of her being
an avenging and punishing power of fate, who, like Dike and the Erinyes, sooner
or later overtakes the reckless sinner (Apollon. Rhod. iv. 1043; Sophocl. Philoct.
518; Eurip. Orest. 1362; Catull. 50, in fin.; Orph. Hymn. 60).
The inhabitants of Smyrna worshipped two Nemeses, both of whom were daughters of Night (Paus. vii. 5.1). She is frequently mentioned under the surnames Adrasteia and Rhamnusia or Rhamnusis, the latter of which she derived from the town of Rhamnus in Attica, where she had a celebrated sanctuary. Besides the places already mentioned she was worshipped at Patrae and at Cyzicus. She was usually represented in works of art as a virgin divinity, and in the more ancient works she seems to have resembled Aphrodite, whereas in the later ones she was more grave and serious, and had numerous attributes. But there is an allegorical tradition that Zeus begot by Nemesis at Rhamnus an egg, which Leda found, and from which Helena and the Dioscuri sprang, whence Helena herself is called Rhamnusis (Callim. Hymnn. in Dian. 232; Paus. i. 33.7). On the pedestal of the Rhamnusian Nemesis, Leda was represented leading Helena to Nemesis (Paus. l. c.) Respecting the resemblance between her statue and that of Aphrodite, see Plin. H. N. xxxvi. 4; comp. Paus. i. 33.2; Strab. The Rhamnusian statue bore in its left hand a branch of an apple tree, in its right hand a patera, and on its head a crown, adorned with stags and an image of victory. Sometimes she appears in a pensive standing attitude, holding in her left hand a bridle or a branch of an ash tree, and in her right a wheel, with a sword or a scourge.
This text is from: A dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology, 1873 (ed. William Smith). Cited Aug 2005 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks
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