Ocean’s Child Worshipping Nemesis in Ancient Rhamnous

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Abstract

According to a passage of Pausanias’ Periegesis (i, 33, 2-4), the statue ofNemesis in Rhamnous was made by Phidias from a piece of Parian marble,which the Persians had brought along at the time of the battle of Marathon tobuild a trophy, sure as they were that they were going to conquer Athens. ThePeriegete describes in detail the agalma of Nemesis, defining her as the mostimplacable against the hybristai. The statue has a crown with deer and smallimages of Nike. In the left hand, she carries an apple branch, and in the righthand a phiale on which Aethiopians are carved. Pausanias reports that hewas not able to guess the reasons why Aethiopians were represented on thephiale, and he does not accept the statement of those who give as an explanationthe fact that they live near the river Ocean, and Ocean is the father ofNemesis. Pausanias then proceeds with an excursus in a Herodotean mannerto demonstrate that the Aethiopians never dwelled on a river Ocean, and headds that in any case Ocean is not a river, but rather the extreme part of thesea navigated by men. He thus accepts the genealogy that makes NemesisOcean’s daughter. He repeats it in Book 7 (5, 1-3) where, speaking about thetwo Nemeseis of Smyrnai, he specifies that the dwellers of Smyrnai assignthem Night as mother, while the Athenians say Ocean is the father of Nemesis.Pausanias insists upon this double genealogy for Nemesis, referring to the Hesiodic Theogony (211-225) and the Athenian tradition, respectively.This paper aims at exploring the origins and the terms of the Athenian tradition,describing Nemesis, who implacably sanctions the overwhelming ofthe limit, as a child of Ocean, himself a liminal figure who marks the spatialborders of human action.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)318-337
Numero di pagine20
RivistaSTUDI E MATERIALI DI STORIA DELLE RELIGIONI
Volume85
Stato di pubblicazionePublished - 2019

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