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Niké

Νίκη). The Greek goddess of victory, according to Hesiod, daughter of Pallas and Styx, by whom she was brought to Zeus to assist him in his struggle with the Titans; thenceforward she remained always with Zeus on Olympus. She is the sister of Zelos (zeal), Cratos (power), and Bia (force). Sculptors often represent her in connection with divinities who grant victory: thus the Olympian Zeus and the Athené on the Acropolis at Athens held in one hand a statue of Niké. She was generally represented as winged and with a wreath and a palm-branch. As herald of victory she also bore the wand of Hermes. This mode of representing her was adopted for the statues of the goddess specially revered by the Romans under the name Victoria. Vica Pota (“Victorious Issue”) was an earlier designation of the same goddess. Such statues were erected chiefly on the Capitol by triumphant generals. The most famous was the statue, brought from Tarentum and therefore probably the work of a Greek artist, which Augustus dedicated to her in the Curia Iulia, in memory of his victory at Actium. When the Curia Iulia had been destroyed by fire in the reign of Titus and rebuilt by Domitian, the statue was placed in the new building, and was adored as the guardian goddess of the Senate until Christianity became the religion of the Empire. Athené was also styled Niké as giving victory, and the Niké Apteros or Wingless Victory, to whom the famous temple at Athens was built (see illustration on p. 1097), was Athené, she being thus distinguished from Niké proper, who was conventionally represented with wings. See Baudrillart, Les Divinités de la Victoire en Grèce et en Italie (Paris, 1894).

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