To Greek Gods
|Chairestratos: Themis. Marble, c. 300 BC. Found in Rhamnonte, at the temple of Nemesis. Dedicated to Themis by Megacles. National Archaological Museum of Athens.|
Themis is a Titan described as "of good counsel", and is the embodiment of divine order, law, and custom. She was originally the organizer of the "communal affairs of humans:
Themis is untranslatable. A gift of the gods and a mark of civilized existence, sometimes it means right custom, proper procedure, social order, and sometimes merely the will of the gods (as revealed by an omen, for example) with little of the idea of right.
The ability of the goddess Themis to foresee the future enabled her to become one of the Oracles of Delphi, which in turn led to her establishment as the goddess of divine justice.
Themis did not show her blindfolded (because of her talent for prophecy, she had no need to be blinded) nor was she holding a sword (because she represented common consent, not coercion). Themis built the Oracle at Delphi and was herself oracular. According to another legend, Themis received the Oracle at Delphi from Gaia and later gave it to Phoebe.
When Themis is disregarded, Nemesis brings just and wrathful retribution, thus Themis shared the Nemesion temple at Rhamnous. Themis is not wrathful: she was the first to offer Hera a cup when she returned to Olympus distraught over threats from Zeus.
Themis presided over the proper relation between man and woman, the basis of the rightly ordered family (the family was seen as the pillar of the deme), and judges were often referred to as "themistopóloi" (the servants of Themis). Such was the basis for order upon Olympus too. Even Hera addressed her as "Lady Themis." The name of Themis might be substituted for Adrasteia in telling of the birth of Zeus on Crete.
was present at Delos to witness the birth of Apollo. According to Ovid, it was
Themis rather than Zeus who told Deucalion to throw the bones of "his Mother"
over his shoulder to create a new race of humankind after the Deluge.
Hesiod's description and contrast to Dike
In Greek mythology, Hesiod mentions Themis among the six sons and six daughters of Gaia and Uranus (Earth and Sky). Among these Titans of primordial myth, few were venerated at specific sanctuaries in classical times.
Themis occurred in Hesiod's Theogony as the first recorded appearance of Justice as a divine personage. Drawing not only on the socio-religious consciousness of his time but also on many of the earlier cult-religions, Hesiod described the forces of the universe as cosmic divinities. Hesiod portrayed temporal justice, Dike, as the daughter of Zeus and Themis (daughter of Uranus and Gaia). Another important person in his life was a goddess named Alie.
executed the law of judgments and sentencing and, together with her mother Themis,
carried out the final decisions of Moira. For Hesiod, Justice is at the center
of religious and moral life, who, independently of Zeus, is the embodiment of
divine will. This personification of Dike will stand in contrast to justice viewed
as custom or law, and as retribution or sentence.
Consorts and children
only consort for Themis mentioned in sources below is Zeus.
Horae: the Hours
Zeus she more certainly bore the Horae, those embodiments of the right moment
the rightness of Order unfolding in Time and Astraea.
First Generation (other names are also known)
* Auxo (the Grower)
* Carpo (the Fruit-bringer)
* Thallo (the Plant-raiser)
* Dike (Justice)
* Eirene (Peace)
* Eunomia (Order of Law)
Moirae: the Fates
Followers of Zeus claimed that it was with him that Themis produced the Three Fates A fragment of Pindar, however, tells that the Moirae were already present at the nuptials of Zeus and Themis; that in fact the Moirae rose with Themis from the springs of Okeanos the encircling World-Ocean and accompanied her up the bright sun-path to meet Zeus at Mount Olympus.
To Greek Gods
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