in Metamorphoses, Book One
from Mandelbaum, Book 1:320
Deucalion and his wife....
First they prayed unto the nymphs
Of the Corycian cave, the mountain gods,
and Themis - she, the goddess who foretells
the future, in those early days, was still
the keeper of the Delphic oracle.
from More, at Perseus
there in a small and fragile boat, arrived,
Deucalion and the consort of his couch,
prepared to worship the Corycian Nymphs,
the mountain deities, and Themis kind,
who in that age revealed in oracles
the voice of fate.
...And here they worshipped
First the Corycian nymphs and native powers,
Then Themis, oracle and fate-revealer.
from Mandelbaum, Book 1:375-90
"If the gods are pleased,
by righteous prayers, and their wrath can be
appeased, then tell us, Themis, by what means
the ruin of our race can be redeemed;
and, kindest goddess, help this flooded world."
The goddess had been moved; her oracle
gave this response:"Now, as you leave the temple,
cover your heads, and do not bind your clothes,
and throw behind you, as you go, the bones
of the great mother."
They are stunned, struck dumb;
and Pyrrha is the first to break their long
silence: she says she cannot do as told;
with trembling voice she begs the goddess' pardon,
but she cannot offend her mother's Shade
by scattering her bones. Again, again,
they ponder all the oracle had said;
those words - obscure and dark - leave them perplexed.
At last, Prometheus' son speaks words that would
allay the fears of Epimetheus' daughter:
"I may be wrong, but I think Themis' answer
did not involve impiety or ask
for any sacrilege. By the greater mother,
the earth is meant: and bones, I think, mean stones,
which lie inside earth's body. It is these
that we must throw behind us as we leave....
....the stones began to lose their hardness;
they softened slowly and, in softening, changed form.
Their mass grew greater and their nature more tender....
the stones the man had thrown were changed to men,
and those the women cast took women's forms.
from More translation, at Perseus 489-534
489 they fell upon the earth, inspired with awe,
and kissed the cold stone with their trembling lips,
and said; "If righteous prayers appease the Gods,
and if the wrath of high celestial powers
may thus be turned, declare, O Themis! whence
and what the art may raise humanity?
O gentle goddess help the dying world!"
Moved by their supplications, she replied;
"Depart from me and veil your brows; ungird
your robes, and cast behind you as you go,
the bones of your great mother." Long they stood
500 in dumb amazement: Pyrrha, first of voice,
refused the mandate and with trembling lips
implored the goddess to forgive--she feared
to violate her mother's bones and vex
her sacred spirit. Often pondered they
the words involved in such obscurity,
repeating oft: and thus Deucalion
to Epimetheus' daughter uttered speech
of soothing import; " Oracles are just
and urge not evil deeds, or naught avails
510 the skill of thought. Our mother is the Earth,
and I may judge the stones of earth are bones
that we should cast behind us as we go."
And although Pyrrha by his words was moved
she hesitated to comply; and both amazed
doubted the purpose of the oracle,
but deemed no harm to come of trial. They,
descending from the temple, veiled their heads
and loosed their robes and threw some stones
behind them. It is much beyond belief,
520 were not receding ages witness, hard
and rigid stones assumed a softer form,
enlarging as their brittle nature changed
to milder substance,--till the shape of man
appeared, imperfect, faintly outlined first,
as marble statue chiseled in the rough.
The soft moist parts were changed to softer flesh,
the hard and brittle substance into bones,
the veins retained their ancient name. And now
the Gods supreme ordained that every stone
530 Deucalion threw should take the form of man,
and those by Pyrrha cast should woman's form
assume: so are we hardy to endure
and prove by toil and deeds from what we sprung.
from Humphries, 370-410
...At the stairs
They both fell prone, kissed the chill stone in prayer:
"If the gods' anger ever listens
To righteous prayers, O Themis, we implore you,
Tell us by what device our wreck and ruin
May be repaired. Bring aid, most gentle goddess,
To sunken circumstance."
And Themis heard them,
And gave this oracle: "Go from the temple,
Cover our heads, loosen your robes, and throw
Your mother's bones behind you!" Dumb, they stood
In blank amazement, a long silence, broken
By Pyrrha, finally: she would not do it!
With trembling lips she prays whatever pardon
Her disobedience might merit, but this outrage
She dare not risk, insult her mother's spirit
By throwing her bones around. In utter darkness
They voice the cryptic saying over and over,
What can it mean? They wonder. At last Deucalion
Finds the way out: "I might be wrong, but surely
The holy oracles would never counsel
A guilty act. The earth is our great mother,
And I suppose these bones the goddess mentions
Are the stones of earth; the order means to throw them,
The stones, behind us."
She was still uncertain,
And he by no means sure, and both distrustful
Of that command from Heaven; but what damage,
What harm, would there be in trying? They descended,
Covered their heads, loosened their garments, threw
The stones behind them, as the goddess ordered.
The stones - who would believe it -, had we not
The unimpeachable witness of Tradition? -
Began to lose their hardness, to soften, slowly,
To take on form, to grow in size, a little,
Become less rough, to look like human beings,
Or anyway as much like human beings
As statues do, when the sculptor is only starting,
Images half blocked out....
The stones the man had thrown turned into men,
The stones the woman threw turned into women,
Such being the will of God. Hence we derive
The hardness that we have, and our endurance
Gives proof of what we have come from.
Themis is a Titan
BORN TO: Gaia and Ouranos bore the Titans: Okeanos, Koiso, Krios,
Okeanos, Koios, Krios, Hyperion, Iapetus, Theia, Rhea, Themis, Mnemosyne,
Phoebe, and Tethys'.
MOTHER OF: (by Zeus) the Fates and the Horae (Seasons),
the Hesperides, Astraea, Dike, Prometheus
SISTER: sister of Nemesis, goddess of divine retribution, who
torments whose who violate the rules
(Nemesis has eyes open and uncovered, and has a third eye, and eyes
in back of head)
APPEARANCE: stern, blindfolded, holding a sword or scepter and
scales, with which she weighs the claims of opposing parties as she seeks
ROMAN MYTH: Romans called her Justitia, portrayed as a
woman holding a cornucopia and scales.
ROLE: rules justice, divine law and order, the moral or social
order, fate, divine law, nemesis, fate, ethics; goddess of the order of
things established by law, custom and ethics. By Zeus' command, she convenes
the assembly of the gods, and she is invoked when mortals assemble; sits
by Zeus and gives him counsel
RELATION TO GODS: who fought with Zeus against the other Titans;
predate the gods; gods don't wish to trifle with them; may have more power
than the gods.
ORACULAR: Has oracular powers. Built the oracle at Delphi. The
oracle belonged to Poseidon and
Earth in common; that Earth gave her oracles herself, but Poseidon
used Pyrcon as his mouthpiece in giving responses: Forthwith the voice
of the Earth-goddess uttered a wise word,
And with her Pyrcon, servant of the renowned Earth-shaker.
They say that afterwards Earth gave her share to Themis, who gave
it to Apollo as a gift.
The prophetic influence was at first variously attributed to the goddess
Earth, to Neptune, Themis, and others, but it was at length assigned to
Apollo, and to him alone. A priestess was appointed whose office it was
to inhale the hallowed air, and who was named the Pythia
assign a man to good or evil, and determine the length of his life
They spin the thread of destiny, cutting it off with their shears.
Clotho, the spinner, who spins the thread of life.
Lachesis, the measurer, who chooses the lot in life one will have and
measures off how long it is to be.
Atropos, she who can not be turn, who at death with her shears cuts
the thread of life.
old, predate the gods, have power over the gods.
--In the battle of Zeus vs. the Cronus and the Titans, only Themis
and Prometheus sided with Zeus. Themis knew that neither the brute nor
the violent would prevail, but only the clever. Prometheus 1 listened to
her words and sided with Zeus too. However, after the war, when Zeus had
Prometheus 1 chained for having given the fire to mortals, he lamented
--During the Iron age, when the gods abandoned the world, only Astraea,
daughter of Themis, and goddess of innocence and purity, was left,
until she alone deserted the world, and became the constellation Virgo.
--Leto found an island that was willing to allow her to give birth,
and this island was named Delos (“brilliant”) in honor of the divine site.
Apollo was then cared for by Themis, who fed him nectar and ambrosia for
a few days, after which time he was an adult capable of assuming
the full responsibilities of a god. And thus he began his journey...
--Prophesied to Zeus about Achilles' birth and death
--Gave guidance to Deucalion and Pyrrhus after the Flood. See also
According to the Greek version of the Great Flood Myth, the Goddess
Themis taught the surviving couple to repopulate the world by tossing "the
bones of their Mother" behind them as they walked. It was understood that
the Earth was their Mother and her bones were stones.
More on Deucalion: http://www.greece.org/poseidon/work/argonautika/cosmo1_1.html
--Venus, complaining to Themis that her son Eros continued always a
child, was told by her that it was because he was solitary, and that if
he had a brother he would grow apace. Anteros was soon afterwards born,
and Eros immediately was seen to increase rapidly in size and strength.
--Her daughter Dike, also a goddess of justice, presided over
issues of mortal justice - the apportionment of benefits, protection of
individuals and maintenance of the social and political order. She is usually
personified with a sword, but no scale.
from Hesiod's THEOGONY 132
And Earth first bore starry Heaven, equal to herself, to cover her
on every side, and to be an ever-sure abiding-place for the blessed gods.
And she brought forth long hills, graceful haunts  of the goddess
Nymphs who dwell amongst the glens of the hills. She bore also the
fruitless deep with his raging swell, Pontus, without sweet union
of love. But afterwards she lay with Heaven and bore deep-swirling Oceanus,
Coeus and Crius and Hyperion and Iapetus,  Theia and Rhea, Themis
and Mnemosyne and gold-crowned Phoebe and lovely Tethys. After them
was born Cronos the wily, youngest and most terrible of her children,
and he hated his lusty sire.