The Let's Play Archive

Persona 3 Portable

by Feinne

Part 253: Nemesis


Let's talk about Nemesis.

Nemesis was the Greek goddess of vengeful fate. She punished humans for their sins, especially the crime of hubris and cruelty in love. Nemesis also reversed the fortunes of those unfairly blessed with good luck, being responsible for maintaining equilibrium in the world. Unlike many of the better known gods, Nemesis has few traits beyond her implacable pursuit of justice. She is known as Nemesis Rhamnousia, after Rhamnous, where her cult was located, and Adrasteia, likely meaning "one from whom there is no escape."

Mythology provides several different origins for Nemesis. Hesiod, the author of the Theogony describes her as the daughter of Nyx, the primordial goddess of the night, and Erebos, the personification of darkness. Other sources claim that Nyx produced Nemesis by herself, or put Nemesis as the daughter of Zeus or Okeanos, god of the great river thought to surround the world.

Interestingly, one story portrays her as the mother of Helen, Klytaimnestra, Castor, and Pollux. Zeus desired her, so she changed herself into a goose to escape him. Then Zeus transformed himself into a swan and mated with her in that form. Nemesis subsequently produced an egg which she abandoned. Leda, the traditional mother of the four children, later found the egg and kept it until it hatched. However, this story is a deviation; most versions of the tale put Leda as the children's biological mother.

Aside from this one story, Nemesis features in few myths as more than a side character. She is the one who attracted Narkissos to a pool of water where he fell in love with his own reflection and wasted away staring at it. Still, she appears to be deeply venerated (or possibly feared), and scholars believe her cult to be very ancient.

It is tempting to view Nemesis as a punishing goddess similar to the more fire-and-brimstone depictions of the Abrahamic God. However, she is more like a personification of Fate, a key concept in the ancient Greek understanding of the world. Much of Greek mythology features men and women seeking to avoid a terrible fate; Nemesis, like the Furies, is one of those terrible fates.