Themis, who has already been
alluded to as the wife of Zeus, was the daughter of Cronus and Rhea, and
personified those divine laws of justice and order by means of which the
well-being and morality of communities are regulated. She presided over the
assemblies of the people and the laws of hospitality. To her was intrusted the
office of convoking the assembly of the gods, and she was also mistress of
ritual and ceremony. On account of her great wisdom Zeus himself frequently
sought her counsel and acted upon her advice. Themis was a prophetic divinity,
and had an oracle near the river Cephissus in Boeotia.
She is usually represented as
being in the full maturity of womanhood, of fair aspect, and wearing a flowing
garment, which drapes her noble, majestic form; in her right hand she holds the
sword of justice, and in her left the scales, which indicate the impartiality
with which every cause is carefully weighed by her, her eyes being bandaged so
that the personality of the individual should carry no weight with respect to
This divinity is sometimes
identified with Tyche, sometimes with Ananke.
Themis, like so many other
Greek divinities, takes the place of a more ancient deity of the same name who
was a daughter of Uranus and Gaea. This elder Themis inherited from her mother
the gift of prophecy, and when she became merged into her younger
representative she transmitted to her this prophetic power.