What is nemesis?

We explain what nemesis is, what is the origin of this term in Greek culture and some examples of its use.

  1. What is nemesis?

The word nemesis comes from the ancient Greek culture , in which it gave name to the goddess also known as Ramnusia (from Ramnonte, an ancient Greek settlement near the city of Attica, nowadays an archaeological site), and which represented solidarity , retribution, vindictive justice, balance and fortune.

It was represented as a winged figure, often with a veil or a crown, holding a wheel and a sword, torch or snake, as instruments to exercise its punishment.

Being a primal deity, the goddess Nemesis  was above the Olympic gods , and her actions were considered inevitable and unforgiving. She was responsible for punishing disobedient children, those who ignored the hierarchy of command and unfaithful lovers.

She was also in charge of measuring the happiness or misfortune of mortals, although her vindictive character was imposed over time and ended up being one of the  fury , deities closely linked to tribal and bloody passions.

Since Greek culture did not tolerate arrogance and excessiveness, considering them the only “sins” punishable by the gods, their vision of justice had to do precisely with the proportional, the corresponding.

The goddess Nemesis  could punish those favored by fortune , for example, by snatching the recently won. Its practically equivalent Roman version was the goddess  Invidia  (envy).

It is thus explained that the word Nemesis today has the meaning of a just or divine retribution, a long or postponed punishment , or a form of poetic justice. It is also common to see it used as a synonym for  enemy  or  end .

In the first case it is because we tend to associate enmity with the desire for revenge; and in the second because the action of justice used to be the end of the tragic representations of antiquity, or even of many contemporary stories, in which regaining balance is, in some way, the moral.

Some examples of using this word are:

  • “Superman is Lex Luthor’s nemesis”
  • “Your nemesis has arrived, now you will pay for your misdeeds!”
  • “I don’t think so: the day of my nemesis is still far away”
  • “Sooner or later, the powerful find their nemesis”
  • “I will be the nemesis of corrupt politicians”

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