Zeus the Many Married God – Part 2: Themis

Anne of Cleves

Zeus’s s second wife Themis was the Anne of Cleves of the wives of Zeus. Anne of Cleves was the fourth wife of King Henry the Eighth of England who famously had six wives. Being married to Henry the Eighth was not for the faint of heart. He separated England from the Church in Rome in order to obtain a divorce from his first wife Catherine of Aragon when she didn’t produce a male heir. He sent his discarded spouse to live in a series of drafty castles with not enough money to provide for her, ultimately resulting in her early death.

His next wife Anne Boleyn was beheaded on trumped up charges of adultery and treason when she also failed to produce a male heir. His third wife Jane Seymour produced a male heir but she died soon afterwards of childbirth fever. His fifth wife, the much younger Catherine Howard, was found guilty of adultery and beheaded. His sixth and final wife Katherine Parr managed to outlive him but only after coming close to being executed by him for her religious beliefs. She did not go on to live a long life. After Henry died she was finally able to marry the love of her life Thomas Seymour. Their marriage was short and troubled. She died soon after giving birth to their daughter.

Fourth wife Anne of Cleves was the lucky one. She became betrothed to Henry after he scoured the courts of Europe for a new wife. Understandably, eligible ladies were reluctant to sign on for a life with Henry. Henry married Anne because he thought he would benefit from an alliance with her brother William, Duke of Cleves. Henry commissioned a portrait of Anne and on that basis thought she looked attractive enough to marry. When they met and married, for whatever reason, Henry did not feel an attraction for Anne. Henry had the marriage annulled after only six months.   He didn’t use a scorched earth policy like he did when he divorced his first wife Catharine of Aragon and leave her with little money and poorly housed. Anne was given a handsome settlement and beautiful castles. Anne was known thereafter as the king’s beloved sister. Henry and Anne developed a life-long friendship.  She still visited court and got to par take in court activities.

Lady Justice

When you marry a king like Henry the Eighth or Zeus, perhaps the best outcome is the marriage ending but you still get to go on to live your best life. That is what happened with Zeus’s second wife Themis. After securing the wisdom of his first wife Metis, Zeus now needed the traits to be able to administer law. He found that in his marriage to his next wife. Themis was the daughter of Gaia and Uranus.  She was the Titan goddess of divine law and justice. In art she was portrayed as “Lady Justice”, holding a balanced scale to symbolize her ability to bring order and balance. Themis was considered to be the goddess who provided humans with the rules by which they should lead their lives.

Prior to the marriage, Themis acted as an advisor to Zeus and helped secure his rise to the throne of Mount Olympus. After the war against the Titans, Themis kept her revered position as goddess of Justice and was installed upon Mount Olympus. Working together lead to marriage for Zeus and Themis. Her marriage to Zeus was a successful partnership. Together they had six children, including the Horai, Thalo, Auxo, and Carpo,  the three deities linked with the seasons. They also had the Moirai, the three Fates who handled human lives, Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos.

Zeus eventually left Themis but they remained friends. She continued to offer her guidance to her former husband while remaining free to live her own life. She helped him plan and execute the Trojan War to bring an end to the Age of Heroes. She never lost any of her stature as a goddess through marriage and divorce to Zeus. Themis lost the husband but kept the job. She has been allowed to live on as few other gods have. Statues of her often called “Lady Justice” can be found outside many courthouses today. Her marriage may have ended in divorce, but all in all, Themis had the best outcome of any of Zeus’s wives.

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