Dike – the Greek Mythological Goddess of Justice
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There are a lot of gods and goddesses in Greek mythology, and each has his or her own special purposes. We know these myths as just stories, however there was a time that these tales meant something more because they were part of the religion of the people. Dike was one of the goddesses that were part of the religion of the time. Here’s more information:
Early Life of Dike
In Hesiod’s epic poem The Theogeny, Dike was the daughter of Zeus, the head of the Olympic gods, and Themis, one of his consorts. Themis is also considered the goddess of justice in the Greek pantheon, but while Themis was regarded as the goddess of divine justice, Dike influenced the realm of man’s justice. Together with her sisters, Eunomia and Eirene, Dike was part of the Horai, or goddesses of the season. The Horai were traditionally depicted as goddesses of springtime. While Dike represented justice, Eunomia represented good order and Eirene represented peace.
Stories Involving Dike
The Theogeny tells of several duties performed by Dike on behalf of the Greek gods. Dike’s principal task was to bring news of injustice to the throne of Zeus. Whenever a judge acted falsely, Dike and Zeus would ensure that the malicious juror would pay the price for his wickedness. Specifically, Hesiod tells of Dike punishing judges who pervert justice and deal unfair sentences. Hesiod also notes how Dike teaches humanity how to live just lives.
The goddess encourages men to find a way to settle disputes without resorting to violence. Dike tells that violence is the mark of disorder, which is personified by Hybris, the goddess of insolence and arrogance. Hybris is usually depicted as the enemy of Dike, with the goddess of justice frequently beating her in artwork from the era. Dike promises that those who follow paths of good order will be blessed by her father. This blessing comes in the form of a fruitful spring harvest, which Dike gives in conjunction with Eunomia and Eirene.
Other Information About Dike
Another major name for Dike is Astraea. This name is also the name of the goddess of innocence and purity. Dike became associated with this epithet in a story telling of her departure from humanity. The story tells of how Dike lived with humanity during the Golden and Silver ages. During these eras, humanity was blessed with untold prosperity. Each spring brought a bountiful harvest and men did not know the pains of war or disease.
The hearts of men quickly turned to greed, sickening Dike. The goddess, disgusted with how men lived, decided to depart the mortal realm. Before leaving, Dike warned that future generations would be far worse than their parents, knowing the evils of war and violence. With this proclamation, Dike traveled to the constellation Virgo, where she still observes the affairs of humanity.
Artists in ancient Greece depicted Dike as a slender young woman. Adorned with a wreath of laurels, Dike carried a balance scale. The Romans later added a blindfold on Dike, which became the symbol of the modern statue of Lady Justice seen in many courtrooms. The constellation Libra also has strong associations with Dike, being named after her scales.
Dike is one of the most important goddesses in Greek mythology. Through the stories of Dike, ancients learned to live proper lives of justice and fairness. Dike’s influence continues into the modern era, with courthouses and halls of justice the world over being adorned with her image.
Categorized in: Greek Mythology
This post was written by GreekBoston.com