Nemesis is the Greek goddess of retribution. According to the Latin poem on which Dürer based his rendition, Nemesis had "the power to crush the arrogant minds and triumphs of men and to confound their too ambitious plans." Dispensing judgment, Nemesis hovers formidably above the clouds that separate her from the insignificant town below. Although Dürer portrayed her distinct attributes-the bridle for punishment and the goblet for reward-he conflated her depiction with Fortuna, the goddess of fortune who balances on a sphere to symbolize the unpredictability of fate.
The precise and detailed execution of this print is among Dürer’s most impressive. He constructed Nemesis’s female form from a specific Italian theory of proportion and based the townscape on studies from life.