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Nike (mythology)

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Goddess of victory
Goddess Nike at Ephesus, Turkey.JPG
Stone carving of the goddess Nike at the ruins of the ancient city of Ephesus
AbodeMount Olympus
Symbolgolden sandals, wings, wreaths
Personal information
ParentsPallas and Styx
SiblingsKratos, Bia, Zelus
Roman equivalentVictoria

In ancient Greek religion, Nike (/ˈnki/; Ancient Greek: Νίκη, "Victory" [nǐːkɛː]) was a goddess who personified victory. Her Roman equivalent was Victoria.


Statuette of goddess Nike found in Vani, Georgia

The word νίκη nikē is of uncertain etymology. R. S. P. Beekes has suggested a Pre-Greek origin.[1] Others have connected it to Proto-Indo-European *neik- (“to attack, start vehemently”), making it cognate with Greek νεῖκος (neikos, "strife") and Lithuanian ap-ni̇̀kti ("to attack").[2][3]


Nike was variously described as the daughter of the Titan Pallas and the goddess Styx, and the sister of Kratos (Strength), Bia (Force), and Zelus (Zeal).[4]

"And Styx the daughter of Ocean was joined to Pallas and bore Zelus (Emulation) and trim-ankled Nike (Victory) in the house. Also she brought forth Cratos (Strength) and Bia (Force), wonderful children."

In other sources, Nike was described as the daughter of Ares, the god of war.

"Ares . . . O defender of Olympos, father of warlike Nike (Victory)."


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


Nike in Taq Bostan, Iran

Nike is seen with wings in most statues and paintings, with one of the most famous being the Winged Victory of Samothrace. Most other winged deities in the Greek pantheon had shed their wings by Classical times. Nike is the goddess of strength, speed, and victory. Nike was a very close acquaintance of Athena, and is thought to have stood in Athena's outstretched hand in the statue of Athena located in the Parthenon.[5] Nike is also one of the most commonly portrayed figures on Greek coins.[6] After victory at the Battle of Marathon, Athenians erected the Nike of Callimachus.[7]

Names stemming from Nike include among others: Nikolaos, Nicholas, Nicola, Nick, Nicolai, Niccolò, Nikolai, Nicolae, Nils, Klaas, Nicole, Ike, Niki, Nikita, Nikitas, Nika, Nieke, Naike, Niketas, Nikki, Nico, and Veronica.

Contemporary usage

Statue of the Goddess Nike on the Titanic Engineers' Memorial, Southampton

Family tree

Family of Eurybia and Crius
AnemoiAstra PlanetaAstraeaHecateZelusNike

See also


  1. ^ R. S. P. Beekes, Etymological Dictionary of Greek, Brill, 2009, pp. 1021–2.
  2. ^ Blümel, Wolfgang (24 August 1982). "Zeitschrift für vergleichende Sprachforschung auf dem Gebiete der Indogermanischen Sprachen: Ergänzungshefte". Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht – via Google Books.
  3. ^ Birnbaum, Henrik (24 August 1975). "Common Slavic: Progress and Problems in Its Reconstruction". Slavica Publishers – via Google Books.
  4. ^ Smith, Nice.
  5. ^ "Nike: Greek goddess of victory". Retrieved 2011-11-15.
  6. ^ Sayles, Wayne G. (2007). Ancient Coin Collecting II. Krause Publications. p. 149. ISBN 978-0-89689-516-4.
  7. ^ Pantermalis, Dimitris. "Nike of Callimachus" (PDF). Dimitris Pantermalis President of the Acropolis Museum.
  8. ^ Levinson, Philip. "How Nike almost ended up with a very different name". Business Insider. Retrieved 2017-06-07.
  9. ^ Morgan, Mark L.; Berhow, Mark A. (2002). Rings of Supersonic Steel: Air Defenses of the United States Army 1950-1979 : an Introductory History and Site Guide. Hole In The Head Press. ISBN 978-0-615-12012-6.
  10. ^ Winner's medal for the 1948 Olympic Games in London, Accessed 5 August 2011.
  11. ^ "Picture of 2004 Athens Games Medal". Retrieved 2010-01-28.
  12. ^ "The Honda logotype | The Honda Trials History". Retrieved 2017-05-19.


External links