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Sunday, April 25, 2021

A To Z Blogging Challenge - V Is For Victory, Goddess of...

Nike. Fair use.

Okay, so I have had to cheat a bit on this one. The goddess’s name is Nike, but she is the goddess of Victory and, now I think of it, her Roman name is Victoria, so it works after all. 

Although she was strictly a virgin like Athene(with whom she hangs out in sculpture) and Artemis, Nike was a very popular goddess, one you would really want on your side. Think about it.

She had wings, and was the daughter of Pallas and the nymph Styx. Pallas was a Titan, father of Nike and three strong boys, Zelus, Kratos and Bia. Styx was the goddess of the river of the Underworld. Oh, and these two had one more daughter, Scylla - yes, that Scylla, who ended up as a scary monster. So Nike was her sister, much more successful than poor Scylla. 

When Zeus was getting ready to take on the Titans ruling the world, Styx brought along Nike and her three boys, to offer him as helpers. 

Nike’s wings came in handy for fluttering around the battlefield handing out laurel wreaths, but she also drove Zeus’s chariot. Nice to see a woman doing the driving.

The image of her has been a big thing over the centuries. The Winged Victory of Samothrace, which was sculpted in about the third century BCE and is now in the Louvre, was probably created to celebrate a naval victory. A pity the head and one arm are missing because it’s a stunning work, of a young woman flying joyously upwards. 

Winged Victory. Fair Use

I’m quite sure it’s not for nothing that there is a brand of running shoes named for her, implying “If you want to win that race, wear these!” Nike was an amazing runner.

In fact, she was a general symbol of victory, including in athletics, often shown holding a palm leaf over winners.

There is a statue of Athene holding a small winged Nike, and a temple of Athene Nike on the Acropolis in Athens, with a wall that had a frieze of winged Nike images. 

As Victoria, in Rome, she was much bigger than in Greece, with temples and a statue of her that was removed by the Emperor in late fourth century Rome, infuriating her worshippers, including, no doubt, the generals who sacrificed to her when returning from a successful war.

A pity that her name now is associated with a brand of shoe; anyone who hasn’t heard the myth will likely think of that first. 

Tomorrow I will be telling you about my favourite Trojan War novel, Whom The Gods Would Destroy by Richard Powell.


Debra She Who Seeks said...

From a symbolic point of view, I think it's significant that Victory is winged -- she can come and go quickly, and be quite fleeting. Here today, gone tomorrow.

AJ Blythe said...

I have to confess I hadn't heard of this myth so my first thought was teh shoe. You're right, it's a shame it's been lost to marketing.

Ronel Janse van Vuuren said...

With her wings, victory is truly fleeting...

Ronel visiting for the A-Z Challenge with an A-Z of Faerie: Keeper of the Veil

Jayashree (pagesfromjayashree) said...

I have not heard of the goddess Nike before, I belong to the group that knows only the shoe. Happy I read this post....New piece of information

Iain Kelly said...

I wonder if Nike is rather upset that a running shoe company has stolen her identity!

Deborah Weber said...

I knew the tale of the "real" Nike. We have a copy of The Winged Victory of Samothrace in Chicago that was cast from the mold of the original sculpture in the Louvre. Our copy is gilded in gold leaf and she's absolutely stunning.

Sue Bursztynski said...

A good thought there, Debra and Ronel!

Glad you’ve leaned something new, Jayashree!

She can’t be too annoyed, Iain, as that company is doing very well! Maybe she likes the promotion?

One of these days, Deborah, I will visit the US and definitely take a look at Chicago. It has so many other attractions I was already thinking it was a good place to visit.

Anne E.G. Nydam said...

I only ever think of Nike in terms of her image, but never really thought about her as a character. I wonder what kind of plot one could imagine about a character who is always victorious by definition. I mean, I'm a firm believer in having the "good guys" win in the end, but when their superpower is actually simply "I always win"...?
Black and White: V for Valhalla, Vaikuntha