Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 2.djvu/563

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termination of prosperity, that made Amasis king of Egypt warn his friend Polycrates of Samos, that the gods loved those whose lives were chequered with good and evil fortunes. Nemesis was supposed to lie in wait particularly for the prudent; that is, for those whose caution rendered them accessible only to mere accidents; and her first altar was raised on the banks of the Phrygian Æsepus by Adrastus, probably the prince of that name who killed the son of Crœsus by mistake. Hence the goddess was called Adrastea.[1]

The Roman Nemesis was sacred and august: there was a temple to her in the Palatine under the name of Rhamnusia;[2] so great, indeed, was the propensity of the ancients to trust to the revolution of events, and to believe in the divinity of Fortune, that in the same Palatine there was a temple to the Fortune of the day.[3] This is the last superstition which retains its hold over the human heart; and, from concentrating in one object the credulity so natural to man, has always appeared strongest in those unembarrassed by other articles of belief. The antiquaries have supposed this goddess to be synonymous with Fortune and with Fate;[4] but it was in her vindictive quality that she was worshipped under the name of Nemesis.

  1. Dict. de Bayle, art. "Adrastea."
  2. It is enumerated by the regionary Victor.
  3. "Fortunæ hujusce diei." Cicero mentions her, De Legib., lib. ii.

    V. C. LEGAT.
    LEG. XIII. G.

    (See Questiones Romanæ, etc., ap. Græv., Antiq. Roman., v. 942. See also Muratori, Nov. Thesaur. Inscrip. Vet., Milan, 1739, i. 88, 89, where there are three Latin and one Greek inscription to Nemesis, and others to Fate.)