Nemesis – Concept, origin and examples

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

The word nemesis is common to see it used as a synonym for enemy or from final.

What is nemesis?

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

She was depicted as a winged figure, often wearing a veil or crown, holding a wheel and a sword, torch, or snake, as instruments to exercise her punishment.

Being a primeval deity, the goddess Nemesis I was above the Olympian gods, and his actions were considered inevitable and implacable. She was in charge of punishing disobedient children, those who ignored the hierarchy of command and unfaithful lovers.

It was also in charge of measuring the happiness or misery of mortals, although its vengeful character was imposed over time and ended up being one of the furies, deities closely linked to tribal and bloody passions.

Since Greek culture did not tolerate pride and excess, 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, snatching what they recently earned. 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, long-postponed or expected punishment, or a form of poetic justice. It is also common to see it used as a synonym for enemy or from final.

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 recovering the balance is, in some way, the moral.

Some examples of the use of 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 off”
  • “Sooner or later, the powerful find their nemesis”
  • “I will be the nemesis of corrupt politicians”