Nike. The Goddess Of Victory, Wisdom and Justice +15 Facts

Today we present the legend of Nike, the Griga Goddess Of Victory. Learn about her powers, adventures, myths and relationships.

nike Goddess

Nike, Greek Goddess

Nike the goddess of victory, was the personification of the ideal of victory. Such personifications of ideal terms were common in ancient Greek culture; other examples include Wisdom, Knowledge, and Justice. Unlike other gods in the Greek pantheon, these personifying deities did not usually have human personalities and histories.

For this reason, little is said about Nike in Greek culture beyond that his mother was Styx (daughter of Ocean) and his father was Pallas, the Titan. She had three sisters, also personified divinities: Zelus (rivalry), Cratos (supremacy), and Bia (strength) who, with this goddess, were always seated by mighty Zeus on Mount Olympus.

nike diosa de la victoria

Chief charioteer

The ancient Greeks worshipped Nike because they believed that she could make them never die and was able to grant humans the strength and speed needed to be victorious in whatever task they undertook. Nike allied herself with the chief of the Greek gods Zeus during the great conflict of the war against the Titans. During this event, she acted as his chief charioteer. Nike’s reward for doing this was that Zeus promised to keep her close to him and protect her forever. She is often seen sitting next to Zeus on Mount Olympus.

In Roman mythology, Nike was known as Victory, after the fall of Greece to the Roman Empire. She appears with Zeus in statues in places such as the Temple of ZEUS in Attica and on the west portico of the Temple of ATHENA in Athens. When she appeared alone, she always had wings and carried a palm branch in her right hand. If she was seen with another god, this goddess was always wingless. According to many accounts, Nike is depicted wingless in Athens so that she can never fly away from her city.

Mythology Of Nike The Goddess Of Victory

Nike and her brothers were close companions of Zeus, the dominant deity of the Greek pantheon. According to classical myth (later), Styx brought them to Zeus when the god was gathering allies for the Titanomachy against the older deities. She assumed the role of the divine charioteer, a role in which she is often portrayed in classical Greek art. This goddess flew around the battlefields rewarding the victors with glory and fame, symbolized by a wreath of laurel leaves (bay leaves).


Nike a goddess of victory, was a popular figure in ancient Greek art, appearing in sculpture, on pottery and coins. She usually matches Hesiod’s description as “the beautiful Nike”, is depicted with wings and often wears before her a crown of victory, which she presents either to other gods or to victorious heroes and athletes.

nike la diosa de la victoria

The oldest surviving winged Nike in sculpture is from Delos and dates to 550 BC and was most likely sculpted by Archermos. The statue is archaic in style and depicts the typical pose of the time with bent knees and running. In Attic pottery from the 5th to 4th centuries BC, Nike also often rides in a chariot or sometimes stands next to an altar or a sacrificial bull. One of the most common epithets of the goddess Athena was Athena Nike and a temple to Athena as Victory was built on the Acropolis of Athens in the late 420s BC.


Bronze akroteria (added decoration) at the corners and on the central ridge of the temple roof depicted Nike, and the temple itself was surrounded by a balustrade decorated with a frieze depicting figures of Nike leading bulls to sacrifice and erecting various trophies, such as weapons and armor. Nike also appeared in decorative sculpture on other buildings, both in friezes and on many temple ceilings as an akroteria and on many coins from Thrace to Macedonia, for example, he appears on a silver decalogue from Syracuse (Sicily) where he is crowning a charioteer (c. 400 B.C.).

Statues of Nike were also placed to commemorate military victories, a famous example being the 1.4 m high Nike (490-480 BC) on the acropolis dedicated to the general Kallimachos who was killed at the battle of Marathon, where the Greeks defeated the Persians. In antiquity, the most famous representations of Nike were part of the large statues of the deities Athena and Zeus from the 5th century BC that were found, respectively, in the Parthenon in Athens and in the Temple of Zeus at Olympia. These larger-than-life chryselephantine statues were made of an inner core of wood sumptuously covered with carved ivory and burnished gold.

Carved ivory and gold

The face, torso, legs and arms were of carved ivory and the hair and clothing were of gold leaf. In both cases, the god held in his right hand a statue of this goddess, always closely associated with Athena, and in the case of Zeus and the Panhellenic games at Olympia, significant in his role as a bestower of prizes. The statue of Zeus was considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and the father of the gods is seated on a massive, richly decorated throne with more Nike figures on its legs. Neither statue survives, but descriptions by Pausanias, smaller Roman copies, and coin designs help us glimpse the magnificence we have lost.

A third representation that must have impressed the ancients was the statue of Nike of Paionios, which stood on a nine-meter-high triangular pedestal just outside the Temple of Zeus at Olympia. Dedicated to the shrine by the Messenians and Naupaktians after their victory over the Spartans at Sphakteria in 424 BC, this goddess itself was three meters tall and would have dominated all other dedications at the site. The statue is sculpted in the rich folk style of the late 5th century BC, and with a chiton that is both wavy and sticky and with wings widely spread, the impression is that the goddess has just landed softly on the pedestal at that moment.

The temple of Athena Nike a small shrine dedicated to victory

The Temple of Athena Nike is the smallest structure on the Athenian Acropolis, but it is no less important than its neighboring sanctuaries. Built in honor of Athena Nike, the goddess of victory, the site on which the temple was built has ceremonial roots dating back to the Bronze Age. When the new classical temple was built in the 5th century BC, it undoubtedly served a dual function: it was a shrine to the patron goddess of Athens, and also acted as a symbol of Athens’ military and political strength.


Bronze Age

The location of the Temple of Athena Nike is in the southwest corner of the Acropolis, adjacent to the Propylaia. The position of the temple, on a rocky projection of the outcrop, was particularly vulnerable to attack. The Mycenaeans built a wall there to complement the natural citadel of the Acropolis, and began to worship it. There is archaeological evidence dating back to the Bronze Age that suggests that this place was very important for the worship of this goddess, or victory, deities. In the 6th century BC, also known as the Archaic period, a cult of Athena Nike was established and a small earlier temple was built on the site.

When the Persians sacked Athens and destroyed the Acropolis in 480 BC, the temple of Athena Nike was also left in ruins. With the architect Kallikrates at the helm, the temple was to be a simple Ionic sanctuary, made of Pentelic marble, and included a prostyle porch with four columns at the front and rear. It was also adorned with a sculptural frieze around it, as was customary in Greek temple construction. However, something delayed the construction, and it was not completed until around 420 B.C., built of Poros limestone and faced with marble.


It was also surrounded by a kind of railing or parapet that would have prevented Athenians and other visitors from falling off the Acropolis. This fortification was decorated with relief sculptures depicting various Nike presentations. Like all Greek temples, the Temple of Athena Nike would have housed a cult statue in her cell. In Greek mythology, this goddess deities were often depicted with wings. This was not the case with Athena Nike. The wooden cult statue was wingless, so she was nicknamed Apteros Nike, or “wingless victory.” This was perhaps to ensure that Nike (and thus a military victory or supremacy) would never leave Athens.

Today, the Temple of Athena Nike can be seen on the Athenian Acropolis, in its restored state. It suffered the same fate as the other buildings of the Acropolis, having fallen victim to the Ottoman occupation and the Turkish siege in 1687. In 1834, the temple was rebuilt after the emancipation of Greece. Then in 1998, it again underwent repairs, this time to replace the concrete floor as it was falling into ruin and the frieze was removed and placed in the Acropolis Museum, safe from the harsh environmental elements of Athens.

Contemporary use

  • The sports equipment company Nike, Inc. is named after the Greek goddess Nike.
  • The Nike project, a U.S. anti-aircraft missile system, is named after the goddess Nike.
  • Since Giuseppe Cassioli’s design for the 1928 Olympic Games, the obverse of every Olympic medal bears the figure of Nike with a palm in her right hand and a laurel wreath in her left.
  • The logo of the Honda motorcycle company is inspired by the goddess Nike.
  • Exclusive car company Rolls Royce features Nike as a hood ornament on its cars

Orphic Hymn 33 to Nike the Goddess of Victory

“O mighty Nike, by men desired, With breasts adverse to the terrible fury fired, I invoke thee, whose strength alone can quell contending rage and abuse fell. It is thine in battle to confer the crown, The victor’s prize, the mark of sweet fame; For thou rulest all things.”

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