To have no secret place
Victor Davis Hanson compares Ted Haggard and John Kerry to the character Pentheus in Euripede's play Bacchae. Pentheus starts off in the play as a moral crusader, but is secretly debauched. He secretly indulges in the vice he pretends to abhor. And before long Pentheus is destroyed by Nemesis, that agency of destruction from the gods.
In that latter tragedy, the young king vows to stomp out the new cult of Dionysos, with its celebration of wine and, more darkly to Pentheus, sexual liberation, particularly of women.
But after spending the first half of the play, mustering the forces of decency, in an eerie exchange with the disguised god, Pentheus himself shows a dark curiosity about what he wants to drive out. Soon he is cross-dressing, engaging in voyeurism, and ends up torn apart by the wild Bacchant women, among them his own mother. Euripides reminds us to seek balance in life, and to moderate our passions, especially the zealotry that may masque inner desires for the forbidden. Bacchae is a great play, Euripides’ last, and timeless in its wisdom about human frailty.
It's useful when making classical comparisons to get some sense of what these words originally meant. Nemesis was a woman. Or rather she was a goddess. According to Wikpedia.
Nemesis was ... the spirit of divine retribution against those who succumb to hubris, vengeful fate personified as a remorseless goddess. The name Nemesis is related to the Greek word ... meaning "to give what is due". The Romans equated one aspect of Greek Nemesis, which might be translated "indignation at unmerited advantage",
Hubris was a crime. In ancient Greece it was the equivalent of "from what might today be termed assault and battery, to sexual assault, to the theft of public or sacred property". It was not, as we think it today, a case of overambition but of unjustified bullying. Aristotle defined hubris as a kind of sadistic assertion of one's putative superiority. It was not the scope of the act but its quality of meanness which made hubris hateful to the gods.
Hubris consists in doing or saying things that cause shame to the victim, not in order that anything may happen to you, nor because anything has happened to you, but merely for your own gratification. Hubris is not the requital of past injuries; this is revenge. As for the pleasure in hubris, its cause is this: men think that by ill-treating others they make their own superiority the greater.
In Haggard's case, it wasn't that he was opposed to homosexuality — many people reject homosexuality — but the fact that he publicly prosecuted homosexuality out of a sense of false righteousness which fulfilled the condition of hubris. In Kerry's case, it was that he needlessly and gratuitously sniffed down at members of the service who protected him from the height of his great social position and wealth. Not because he had to, but because he could. In both cases the offense wasn't the men's views, but their cowardly malice that was so repulsive. It was exactly a kind of assault and battery, or sexual assault. In Kerry's case it was probably even akin to the theft of public or sacred property.
The public event to which the word "hubris" has been so grossly misapplied has been Operation Iraqi Freedom. The attempt to rid the Middle East of a dictator, bring democracy to the inhabitants of a country and provide it with billions of dollars in reconstruction money without seeking a single square kilometer of sovereignty or looted drop of oil in return may be a many things: a poorly executed plan, an overambitious program — but it was not hubris. That's a word better applied to Sykes and Picot who drew up Iraq with colored pencils on a map. Or better applied to the man now facing a rope for trying to invade Iran and Kuwait, then secretly attack America on his way to being the leader of the new Babylon. Fair minds and generous hearts may be battered, but not from hubris. Misfortune may come, but nemesis will pass them by.
I don't suppose it's possible to leave this topic without quoting Edward Guest's My Creed, who expressed the kind of modesty each man needs as his shield — not from Fortune — but from Nemesis.
To live as gently as I can;
To be, no matter where, a man;
To take what comes of good or ill
And cling to faith and honor still;
To do my best, and let that stand
The record of my brain and hand;
And then, should failure come to me,
Still work and hope for victory.
To have no secret place wherein
I stoop unseen to shame or sin;
To be the same when I'm alone
As when my every deed is known;
To live undaunted, unafraid
Of any step that I have made;
To be without pretense or sham
Exactly what men think I am.
To leave some simple mark behind
To keep my having lived in mind;
If enmity to aught I show,
To be an honest, generous foe,
To play my little part, nor whine
That greater honors are not mine.
This, I believe, is all I need
For my philosophy and creed.