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Ancient Art

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Focus on The Winged Victory of Samothrace

VictoryThe goddess of Victory, daughter of the Titan PALLAS (2) and the Oceanid STYX. She and her siblings Zelus (Aspiration), Cratos (Power) and BIA (Might) were the constant companions of ZEUS, an honour accorded them after they and their mother supported Zeus in his battle with the TITANS. Pheidias’ colossal statue of Zeus at Olympia showed the god holding in his right hand a Nike, made of ivory and gold like the statue itself, and at the foot of his throne were several representations of the goddess dancing.

In surviving art, Nike is shown winged and flying at great speed, with thin, swirling drapery. Perhaps her most famous portrayal is as the Winged Victory of Samothrace, a magnificent eight-foot-high statue, dating from about 190 BC, now standing on the main staircase of the Louvre in Paris (Fig. 117). The huge figure, with wings outstretched, originally showed Nike alighting on a ship's prow, and was set in the upper basin of a great fountain to commemorate a victory at sea.

From CREDO Nike "Victory": Dictionary of Classical Mythology.

The Winged Victory of Samothrace, Early 2nd Cetury B.C., Louvre

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