/nuy"kee/, n.
1. the ancient Greek goddess of victory.
2. one of a series of antiaircraft or antimissile missiles having two or three rocket stages.
[ < Gk níke victory, conquest]

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Greek goddess of victory.

She was the daughter of the giant Pallas and the river Styx. Nike was originally an attribute of both Athena and Zeus, represented as a small figure carried in their hand. She gradually came to be recognized as a mediator between gods and mortals, and was frequently shown carrying a palm branch, wreath, or staff as the messenger of victory. When depicted on her own, she was often a winged figure hovering over the victor in a competition. At Rome she was worshiped as Victoria.

Nike, sculpture from a bronze vessel, probably made in a Greek city of southern Italy, c. ...

By courtesy of the trustees of the British Museum

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▪ Greek goddess
 in Greek religion, the goddess of victory, daughter of the giant Pallas and of the infernal River Styx. Nike probably did not originally have a separate cult at Athens. As an attribute of both Athena, the goddess of wisdom, and the chief god, Zeus, Nike was represented in art as a small figure carried in the hand by those divinities. Athena Nike was always wingless; Nike alone was winged. She also appears carrying a palm branch, wreath, or Hermes staff as the messenger of victory. Nike is also portrayed erecting a trophy, or, frequently, hovering with outspread wings over the victor in a competition; for her functions referred to success not only in war but in all other undertakings. Indeed, Nike gradually came to be recognized as a sort of mediator of success between gods and men.

      At Rome, where Nike was called Victoria, she was worshiped from the earliest times. She came to be regarded as the protecting goddess of the Senate, and her statue in the Curia Julia (originally set up by Augustus in memory of the Battle of Actium) was the cause of the final combat between Christianity and paganism toward the end of the 4th century.

      Among artistic representations of Nike are the sculpture by Paeonius (c. 424 BC) and the “Nike of Samothrace.” The latter, discovered on Samothrace in 1863 and now in the Louvre Museum, Paris, was probably erected by Rhodians about 203 BC to commemorate a sea battle. Excavations have shown that the sculpture was placed alighting on a flagship, which was set in the ground in such a way that it appeared to float.

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Universalium. 2010.

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