Themis

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Themis (Greek: Θέμις) is an ancient Greek Titan. She is described as "of good counsel", and is the embodiment of divine order, law, and custom. Themis means "divine law" rather than human ordinance, literally "that which is put in place", from the verb τίθημι, títhēmi, "to put". To the ancient Greeks she was originally the organizer of the "communal affairs of humans, particularly assemblies".[1] Moses Finley remarked of themis, as the word was used by Homer in the 8th century, to evoke the social order of the 10th- and 9th-century Greek Dark Ages:

Themis is untranslatable. A gift of the gods and a mark of civilized existence, sometimes it means right custom, proper procedure, social order, and sometimes merely the will of the gods (as revealed by an omen, for example) with little of the idea of right.[2]

Finley adds, "There was themis—custom, tradition, folk-ways, mores, whatever we may call it, the enormous power of 'it is (or is not) done'. The world of Odysseus had a highly developed sense of what was fitting and proper."[3]

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Mythological function

The personification of abstract concepts is characteristic of the Hellenes. The ability of the goddess Themis to foresee the future enabled her to become one of the Oracles of Delphi, which in turn led to her establishment as the goddess of divine justice.

Some classical representations of Themis (illustration, right) did not show her blindfolded (because of her talent for prophecy, she had no need to be blinded) nor was she holding a sword (because she represented common consent, not coercion). Themis built the Oracle at Delphi and was herself oracular. According to another legend, Themis received the Oracle at Delphi from Gaia and later gave it to Phoebe.[4]

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