NIKE – the ancient Greek winged goddess of victory, triumph, strentgh and speed.
Nike was the winged goddess of victory, triumph, strength and speed according to the ancient Greek myths and legends. She was depicted as the spirit or the goddess who personified victory, both in battle and peaceful competition.
According to the mythological stories, she was a very close companion of the king of gods: Zeus. When Zeus was gathering his allies at the start of the Titan War, against the older deities, he requested the infernal river Stynx, Nike’s mother, to bring all of her children for his support. Stynx, who was the daughter of Okeanos and had four children with the giant Pallas: Nike (Victory), Zelos (Rivalry), Kratos (Strength), and Bia (Force) was summoned to bring her children to the service of the God. Nike assumed the role of the divine charioteer (a role which she is often portrayed in classical Greek art). All four children were appointed as sentinels standing beside the throne of the god.
One of the most famous artistic representations of the goddess Nike is the statute featured above called Nike of Samothrace. It was discovered on the Greek Island of Samothrace in 1863 and is now housed in the famous Louvre Museum in Paris. This magnificent work of art was probably erected by the Rhodians about 203 BC to commemorate a sea battle.
Nike was depicted in Greek art having a variety of attributes including a wreath to crown the victors, an oinochoe and a phiale (bowl and a cup) for libations, a thymiaterion (incense burner), an altar and a lyre for celebration of victory in song. In scenes from Giantomachia (war of the Giants) she appeared driving the chariot of Zeus. In mosaic art and in coins Nike was often holding a palm branch as a symbol of victory. She was frequently portrayed hovering with outspread wings over the victor in a competition; for her function referred to success not only in war but in athletics and all other undertakings. Indeed, Nike was eventually to be recognized as a sort of mediator between gods and men. One of her weakness was that she wanted to win at all costs.
Nike was closely identified with the goddess Athena, the goddess of wisdom, war strategy, peaceful negotiations and the divine patron of warriors.
There were several temples in the Ancient Greek world to honor the goddess such as the temple of Nike at Samothrace, at the Acropolis in Athens and at Ephesus. Worship of the goddess Nike included processions, libations or sacrifices that were performed to elicit her favor. Petitions in a form of prayers could be presented to the priestesses officiating in the temples who could communicate these to the goddess at the sacret oracles. If the answer was received from the goddess it was presented to the petitioner by the priestess.
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