In ancient Greek religion, Nike (/ˈnaɪki/; Greek: Νίκη, "Victory", Ancient Greek: [nǐːkɛː]) was a goddess who personified victory. Her Roman equivalent was Victoria. She was variously described as the daughter of the Titan Pallasand the goddess Styx, and the sister of Kratos (Strength), Bia (Force), and Zelus (Zeal).[1]

Contents Edit


  • 1Etymology
  • 2Ancient references
  • 3Contemporary usage
  • 4See also
  • 5Notes
  • 6References
  • 7External links

Etymology Edit

The word νίκη nikē is of uncertain etymology. R. S. P. Beekes has suggested a Pre-Greek origin.[2]

Ancient references Edit

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).

Statuette of goddess Nike found in Vani, Georgia.

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.[3] Nike is also one of the most commonly portrayed figures on Greek coins.[4]

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 Edit

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

  • The sports equipment company Nike, Inc. is named after the Greek goddess Nike.
  • Project Nike, an American anti-aircraft missile system is named after the goddess Nike.
  • A figure of Nike with a vessel was the design of the first FIFA World Cup trophy, known also as the Jules Rimet trophy.
  • Since Giuseppe Cassioli's design for the 1928 Summer Olympics, the obverse face of every Olympic medal bears Nike's figure holding a palm frond in her right hand and a winner's laurel crown in her left.[5][6]
  • The goddess appears on the emblem of the University of Melbourne.
  • Spirit of Ecstasy, the hood ornament used by the automobile manufacturer Rolls-Royce was inspired by Nike.
  • The Titanic Engineers' Memorial, Southampton depicts Nike blessing the engineers of the RMS Titanic for staying at their post as the ship sank.
  • The Honda motorcycle company's logo is inspired by the goddess Nike.[7]