Pagan Paths

Hellenismos, otherwise known as Greek Reconstructionist Paganism, is the traditional, polytheistic religion of ancient Greece, reconstructed in and adapted to the modern world. It's a vibrant religion which can draw on a surprising amount of ancient sources. Baring the Aegis blogger Elani Temperance blogs about her experiences within this Tradition.

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Dikē, Theia of justice

Administering justice is often placed in the sphere of influence of either Athena or Nemesis, and both Goddesses do, indeed, have connections to it. There is one Theia, however, who is the personification of the phenomenon of justice. Dikē (Δικη) is the Goddess of justice placed upon mortals, fair judgements and the rights established by custom and law. According to Hesiod, She was born from a joining of Zeus and Themis, the Titan Goddess of divine law, custom and prophecy. She has five sisters, Eunomia (Ευνομια, Goddess of good order and lawful conduct) and Eirênê (Ειρηνη, Goddess of peace and spring), with whom Dikē forms the Horai (Ὡραι), the Goddesses of the seasons and the natural portions of time; and the Moirai, the Goddesses of fate. Their names are Kloto (Κλωθώ, spinner), Atropos (Ἄτροπος, unturnable), and Lakhesis (Λάχεσις, Alotter).

 
The Horai: Eirênê, Eunomia, and Dikē
 
Dikē was born to Zeus and Themis in a coupling before He took Hera as his wife and queen. Hellenic didactic poet Aratos (Ἄρατος) regarded Her as Astraia (Αστραια), who is either a sepatarte Theia to Dikē, or as an epithet of Her who took to the earth, where the Golden Age ruled. This age, long before the age of heroes, was a just age, and there were no wars. there was no famine. No man coveted possessions of another. Much of this was attributed to Dikē, who kept the inhabitants of this age ethically strong and morally fair. When those of the Golden Age passed, they were morally pure, and became daímōns, guarding over those of later ages. Dikē remained on earth for the Silver Age, but those of the silver age were more corruptible. She wished for the race of the Golden Age, and more and more, the silver race became diseased with lawlessness and strife. Dike gathered the beings of the silver race and told them the following:
 
"Behold what manner of race the fathers of the Golden Age left behind them! Far meaner than themselves! But ye will breed a viler progeny! Verily wars and cruel bloodshed shall be unto men and grievous woe shall be laid upon them." (96)
 
With that, she left earth for the stars, where she watches over the earth as the constellation Virgo. Aratos goes on to say that Dikē hated the bronze age men, 'who were the first to forge the sword of the highwayman, and the first to eat of the flesh of the ploughing-ox'. Other writers like playwright Aeschylus in his 'Papyri Oxyrhynchus', Hellenic rhetorician Demosthenes in 'Against Aristogeiton', within the Orphic Hymns, and by Hesiod himself in Works and Days place Dikē next to the throne of mighty Zeus, Her father, where she can tell Zeus of those whom break her teachings.

Returning to Dikē's genealogy: her family tree would look as follows:

 
  Chaos ------------ Gaea
             |              |
      Ouranos   ---   |
              Themis -- Kronos --- Rhea 
                  |              |
                      |            Zeus
                 |     ---     |
                  | 
                    Dikē

It should be noted that Aratos' Astraia was born not to Zeus and Themis, but to Astraios (Ἀστραῖος) and Eos (Ἠώς). Eos's family line is quite clear, as She is said to have Hyperion and Euryphaessa as Her parents. Astraisos' family line is less clear, with options ranging from Krios and Eurybia to Tartaros and Gaea. As such, it is far more logical to place Her into the sky after Her departure from earth than at Zeus's feet.

Aeschylus wrote of the fucntion and tasks of Dikē the best, I feel, although the final lines are mostly lost to us:

"Dike: And he [Zeus] has his seat upon his father's very throne, having overcome Kronos by means of Justice (Dike); for Zeus can now boast, since his father began the quarrel, that he paid him back with Justice on his side. That is why Zeus has done me great honour, because after being attacked he paid him back, not unjustly. I sit in glory by the throne of Zeus, and he of his own will sends me to those he favours; I mean Zeus, who has sent me to this land with kind intent. And you shall see for yourselves whether my words are empty.
Chorus: How then shall we rightly address you?
Dike: By the name of Dike, her who is greatly revered in heaven.
Chorus: And of what privilege are you the mistress?
Dike: As for the just, I reward their life of justice.
Chorus: (...) this ordinance among mortals.
Dike: But in the reckless I implant a chastened mind.
Chorus: By Persuasion's [Peitho] spells, or in virtue of your might?
Dike: I write their offences on the tablet of Zeus.
Chorus: And at what season do you unroll the list of crimes?
Dike: When the proper time brings the fulfilment of what is theirs by right.
Chorus: Eagerly, I think, should the host welcome you.
Dike: Much would they gain, should they receive me kindly." (part of frag. 282)

Dikē is regarded as a great Goddess whom no one mortal man or woman would defy openly. We all claim our actions are justified (even when they are not so in the eyes of others), and in an argument, even opposites call upon Her, because they are sure She will favor them. Both the oppressors in a war, as the oppressed will say Dikē is on their side, and even thieves and murderers are sure that what they did was just. We had to do it, in order to feed our families, protect our spouse, etc. All are right to call upon Dikē--whose Roman equivalent Iustice became Lady Justice--but it is up to Zeus to pass the final judgement. At that time, He will send Nemesis to strike down the unjust party.

 
While Lady Justice is often depicted with scales, a sword, and a blindfold, Dikē was depicted solely with scales. The sword is attributed to the Roman Iustice, who combined attributes of both Dikē, and Her mother Themis. As such, Iustice administered justice to all, not just mortals. The sword may have been inherited from Nemesis. The blindfold came much later, in the fifteenth century, to indicate that justice is or should be placed upon one objectively, without fear or favour, regardless of identity, money, power, or weakness; blind justice and impartiality. In ancient times, Dikē was sometimes depicted with a cornucopia, to indicate that those who follow Her teachings are rewarded richly, something echoed in Hesiod's writing:

"There is a noise when Dike is being dragged in the way where those who devour bribes and give sentence with crooked judgements, take her. And she, wrapped in mist, follows to the city and haunts of the people, weeping, and bringing mischief to men, even to such as have driven her forth in that they did not deal straightly with her. But they who give straight judgements to strangers and to the men of the land, and go not aside from what is just, their city flourishes, and the people prosper in it: Eirene, the nurse of children, is abroad in their land, and all-seeing Zeus never decrees cruel war against them. Neither famine nor disaster ever haunt men who do true justice; but light-heartedly they tend the fields which are all their care. The earth bears them victual in plenty, and on the mountains the oak bears acorns upon the top and bees in the midst. Their woolly sheep are laden with fleeces; their women bear children like their parents. They flourish continually with good things, and do not travel on ships, for the grain-giving earth bears them fruit." (220 - 237)

All mortals do well to honor Dikē, she can be petitioned for guidance in times when moral and ethical questions weigh heavily upon you. Dikē can not be bribed, however, and unlike us mortals, She knows exactly when an action is just. Petition Her for counsel, but never expect Her to lie to Zeus about your actions. If you must request something as extreme as that, you can be sure Nemesis will not be on your side.

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Elani Temperance is a twenty-seven year old woman, who lives with her partner in The Netherlands. She has been Pagan for a little over twelve years and has explored Neo-Wicca, Technopaganism, Hedge Witchery and Eclectic Religious Witchcraft before progressing to Hellenismos. Although her home practice is fully Hellenic, she has an online Neo-Pagan magazine called 'Little Witch magazine' (www.littlewitchmagazine.com) in which she and several co-writers try to cover the whole gamut of Neo-Paganism. Baring the Aegis is also on Facebook: www.facebook.com/BaringTheAegis

Comments

  • Jamie
    Jamie Wednesday, 17 April 2013

    Another great post! Such an important Goddess for us mortals...

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