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Webster's Dictionary [1]

(n.) The goddess of retribution or vengeance; hence, retributive justice personified; divine vengeance.

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [2]

( Νέμεσις , Vengeance), a female Greek divinity, is most commonly described, according to Hesiod, as a daughter of Night, though some call her a daughter of Erebus (Hygin. Fab. praf.) or of Oceanus (Tzetz. Ad. Lye. 88; Pausan. 1:33, 3; 7:5, 1). Nemesis was a personification of the moral reverence for law, of the natural fear of committing a culpable action, anna nence of conscience, and for this reason she was mentioned together with Αἰδώς , or Shame. In course of time, when an enlarged experience convinced men that a divine will found room for its activity amid the little occurrences of human life, she came to be considered as the personification of the righteous anger of the gods, and as the power who constantly preserves or restores the moral equilibrium of earthly affairs preventing mortals from reaching that excessive prosperity which would lead them to forget the reverence due to the immortal gods, or visiting them with wholesome calamities in the midst of their happiness. Hence originated the latest and loftiest conception of Nemesis as the being to whom was intrusted the execution of the decrees of a strict retributive providence the awful and mysterious avenger of wrong, punishing and humbling evil-doers in particular. Nemesis was thus regarded as allied to Ate and the Eumenides. She is represented as the regulator of human affairs, disbursing at pleasure happiness or unhappiness, the goods and ills of life. She was also looked upon as an avenging deity, and as inflexibly severe to the proud and insolent (Pausanius, 1:33, 2). There was a celebrated temple sacred to her at Rhamnus, in Attica, about sixty stadia distant from Marathon; hence Nemesis was sometimes called also Rhavsnusia or Rhanznusis. In this temple there was a statue of the goddess, made from a block of Parian marble, which theaersians had brought thither to erect a trophy of their expected victory at Marathon. Pausanias says that this statue was the work of Phidias (Pausan. 1:33, 2, 3), but Pliny ascribes it to Agoracritus, and adds that it was preferred by M. Varro to all other statues which existed (Hist. Nat. 36:4, 3). A fragment, supposed by some to be the head of this statue, was found in the temple of Rhamnus, and was presented to the British Museum in 1820 (Elgin and Phigaleian Marbles, 1:120; 2:123). She was represented in the older times as a young virgin, resembling Venus; in later times as clothed with the tunic and peplus, sometimes with swords in her hands and a wheel at her foot, a griffin also having his right paw upon the wheel; sometimes in a chariot drawn by griffins. Nemesis is a frequent figure on coins and gems. The practice of representing the statues of Nemesis with wings was first introduced after the time of Alexander the Great by the inhabitants of Smyrna, who worshipped several goddesses under this name (Pausan. 7:5, 1; 9:35, 2). According to a myth preserved by Pausanias, Nemesis was the mother of Helena by Zeus; and Leda, the reputed mother of Helena. was only her nurse (Pausan. 1:33, 7); but this myth seems to have been invented in later times to represent the divine vengeance which was inflicted on the Greeks and Trojans through the instrumentality of Helena. There was also a statue of Nemesis in the Capitol at Rome, though we learn that this goddess had no name in Latin (Pliny, Hist. Nat. 28:5). See Smith, Dict. of Greek and Ronma Biog. and Myth. s.v.; Vollmer, Mythologisches Wiorterbuch, s.v.; Westcott, Hand-book of Archceoloy, pages 194, 195.

The Nuttall Encyclopedia [3]

In the Greek imagination, the executioner of divine vengeance on evil-doers, conceived of as incarnated in the fear which precedes and the remorse which accompanies a guilty action.