Nemesis

Ming

The modern cult of the superhero is replete with the concept that every superhero has an arch nemesis.  Where the superhero represents good, the nemesis represents evil.  Lex Luthor to Superman, Green Goblin to Spiderman, Joker to Batman, Ming the Merciless to Flash Gordon.  Some go back even further, such as Loki to Thor.

The Nemesis is an important balancing concept.  Without the Nemesis the superhero would have too much power.  Indeed the superhero might seem like a god, and that is hubris.

In fact the concept of Nemesis arose with the very Greek sin of hubris.  Those who would dare to rival gods were brought rightfully back to earth by the spirit of divine retribution.  A remorseless goddess who deals out inescapable revenge.

Seen in this light we understand that the Lex Luthors of the world are not inherently evil.  Instead they are necessary to keep the world in balance.  If you want superheroes you have to have evil arch villains.

To Licinius Macer Calvus; by Catullus

Just yesterday, Licinius, at leisure,
we played around for hours with my tablets
writing erotic verse as we’d agreed to,
each of us taking turns at improvising
line after line in meter after meter,
adjuncts to wine & witty conversation.
And when I left you, I was so on fire
with all your brilliant & ironic humor
that after dinner I was still excited,
and sleep refused to touch my eyes with quiet.
In bed & totally unstrung by passion,
tossing in agony, I prayed for sunrise,
when I could be with you in conversation.
But when my limbs, exhausted by their labor,
lay on the bed in nearly fatal stillness,
I made this poem for you, my beloved,
so you could take the measure of my sorrow.
I beg you to be kind to my petition,
darling, for if you aren’t, if you’re cruel,
then Nemesis will turn on you in outrage.
Don’t rile her up, please—she’s a bitch, that
goddess.

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