In Greek mythology, Temis was a titanid, daughter of Uranus and Gaia. She was the goddess-guardian of men's oaths and of the law, and it was customary to invoke her in trials before magistrates. For this reason, she was sometimes considered the goddess of justice, a title actually attributed to Dice, whose Roman equivalent is the goddess Justice.
Temis holds the scales, with which she balances reason with judgment, and/or a cornucopia; but she is not depicted holding a sword. Her name means "she who is set, placed".
Gaia had been begotten of Chaos, and Uranus was begotten of Gaia. With Uranus, Gaia begot the 12 titans: Oceanus, Ceos, Cryo, Hyperion, Jepetus, Theia, Reia, Themis, Mnemosyne, the crowned golden Phoebe, and the beloved Thetis; finally was born Kronos, the youngest and most terrible of her children, who hated his father's lust.
When still a child, he was given by Gaia into the care of Nix, who had just begotten Nemesis. Gaia's goal, was to protect Themesis from Uranus' madness. But Nix was tired, because she had incessantly given birth to her children.
So Nix gave her daughter Nemesis and her niece Themis to the care of her oldest daughters, the Moiras (Clotho, Laquésis and Atropos).
The Moiras raise the two infant goddesses and teach them all about the cosmic and natural order of things; and the importance of watching over the balance. The Moiras are the goddesses of fate, both for men and gods, and their decisions cannot be transgressed by anyone.
From this creation, we saw the origin of the similarities of the two beautiful and powerful goddesses created as sisters: Temis, the goddess of justice, and Nemesis, the goddess of retribution.
There is a wrong version, according to which the Moiras are daughters of Themis. What may have possibly generated this misunderstanding was confusing them with the hours (cycles present in nature, seasons, weather, vegetation, etc.), which also act on nature's cyclical energies, just like the Moiras (vital cycles of life, being born, growing, etc.).
Temis, in Greek mythology, is the goddess of oaths, mother of Dice, goddess of justice, the protector of the oppressed.
Zeus' first wife was Métis, who, after placing her in his womb, Zeus married Temis. Zeus was the son of Cronos and Reia, brothers of Temis.
She sat beside his throne, as she was his advisor. Considered for mythology the personification of divine order and law, ratified by custom and law.
Zeus and Themis were the fathers of the hours, of Eunomia, Dice, Irene; in a version considered erroneous, they are also attributed to them the three moiras (Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos), usually considered to precede Themis.).
Temis does not represent matter itself, like her mother Gaia, but a quality of the earth, namely its stability, solidity and immobility. She is a goddess who spoke to men through oracles. The most famous of all the oracular temples of Ancient Greece, Delphi, originally belonged to Gaia, who passed it on to her daughter Themis.
After that, it belonged to Phoebe and only at the end was it inhabited by Apollo. There are researchers who claim, however, that Themis is the oracular principle itself, so that instead of there having been four stages of occupation of the Delphi oracle, there were only three: Gaia-Themis, Phoebe-Themis and Apollo-Themis.
Therefore, Themis had maximum connection with the matter of oracular predictions and, in essence, represents the oracular mouth of the earth, the voice of the earth itself, that is, Themis is the earth speaking.
When the titan Prometheus was chained to the Caucasus, Themis prophesied that he would be released. Her prophecy came true when Heracles (or Hercules in Roman mythology), saved him from his punishment. It was Themis who warned Zeus that the son of Métis would be a threat to his father.
She helped Deucalion and Pyrrhus form humanity after the flood sent as punishment by Zeus, prophesying that they should both "throw their mother's bones behind them."
Pirra was afraid of committing some sacrilege by desecrating her mother's bones, not grasping the meaning of the prophecy. Deucalion, however, understood that the bones of the Earth-goddess, mother of all beings, were stones. So he threw back stones and from them men emerged.
The oracles given by Themis not only prophesied the future, but were also commandments of the laws of nature that men should obey. The goddess speaks to us of a natural order and law that precedes the culturally conditioned notions of organization and rules derived from the needs of a society.
Some thinkers believe that Temis is an abstraction of human notions of justice from a specific culture, presumably matrifocal. An archetypal view, would hold that Themis is not the product of social organization, but the presupposition for it. Her psychological existence precedes it and underlies human understanding of what she means or will teach.
The archetypal view would locate her origin in psychic nature, in the collective unconscious, rather than in culture and collective consciousness. It is not secondary, but fundamental.
However, in the cults to Themis, "mysteries" or "orgies" were celebrated, lending to the view that she was a genuine goddess, and not simply a personification of the abstract idea of legality. Themis is the oracular goddess of the Earth, she advocates and speaks on behalf of the Earth, of humanity's rootedness in an unshakable natural order.
One of the attributes of Themis is her great beauty, as well as the power of attraction of her dignity. Her physical attractiveness is confirmed by the myth in which Zeus pursues her with his unbridled style and finally marries her.
In another version after Zeus devours pregnant Metis, the millers bring Temis to Zeus to become Zeus' second wife, and the millers prophesy that Zeus needs and has much to learn from Temis, who is as wise as Metis.
Her most ardent opponent on Olympus was Ares, the god of war whose appetite for violence and bloodlust knew no bounds. Not because Temis was against war, but she acted on environmental grounds, since war would reduce the human population.
As the mother of the Hours (and father Zeus), Themis is also behind the orderly progression of time in nature. The hours represented the natural ordering of the cosmos: winter then spring, day then night, one hour after another.
Her other daughter with Zeus, Astreia, a virgin goddess protecting humanity and symbolizing purity and innocence, was also a goddess of justice. It is said that she left the Earth at the end of the Golden Age so as not to witness the afflictions and sufferings of mankind during the Bronze and Iron Ages.
In the sky she became the constellation of Virgo. Also the scales of Themis, which Astreia carried was transformed into a constellation, Libra.
The hours or seasons (daughters of Zeus and Themis) are: Irene (peace), Dice (justice) and Eunomia (discipline); these are the older hours and are linked to legislation and natural order, being an extension of the attributes of Themis. The latter is related to the representation of the deity of justice. Themis and Dice elucidate the ethical side of instinct, the still, small voice in the bosom of impulse. Dice, for humanity, is the institutional base function very much in tune with what it calls the instinct for reflection.
There are three more hours that are guardians of the natural order, of the annual cycle of growth of vegetation and of the annual seasons (Thallus, Carpus and Auxo).
By presiding over the political meetings of Olympus, Themis manifests the organizational content of her dignity and justice. Themis congregated the meetings with moral seriousness and obliged the great and powerful to listen conscientiously to the objections and contributions of their less prominent brothers and sisters.
The goddess opposed the domination of the one over the many and supported unity over multiplicity, wholeness over fragmentation, integration over repression. In this activity of containment and binding, Themis reveals the principle operated by the female consciousness: the law of love.
Themis was the goddess of collective consciousness and social order, of divine spiritual law, peace, adjustment of differences, divine justice, social gatherings, oaths, wisdom, prophecy, order, births, courts and judges. She was also an inventor of the arts.
Zeus and Themis
Themis was the second wife of Zeus, after Métis and before Hera. It is she who tempered Zeus' power with much wisdom and with her deep respect for natural laws. Being a Titanid, her roots are instinctive and pre-Olympic and she extends forward to include a cosmic vision of the final and essential operations of the entire universe.
Besides being a wife and advisor, Themis is also a mentor to Zeus. In one myth she appears as a wet nurse to baby Zeus, teaching him to respect justice. In the marriage of Zeus and Themis we see two forces, one solar and one lunar, work in coalition with little conflict to be seen.
Zeus was the all-powerful, absolute king, an archetypal pattern that governs the collective consciousness, that both creates and maintains a collectivity. But it is Temis, who, moving within various other archetypal patterns, destabilizes Zeus' absolutism and certainties. She moved in a contrary direction, never failing to include as much as possible. Themis therefore exerted a softening effect.
However, their marriage was not one of total sweet harmony, for although wisdom passed between them, the dictates of one and the other always came at a high price, for nothing has a definitive solution.
In the image of Zeus consulting Themis, we can accept a good dose of exchange. Zeus is the one who rules and decides, while Themis takes a softer attitude and gives her relativizing touch that proceeds from broader perspectives.