"O powerful Nike, by men desired, with adverse breasts to dreadful fury fired, thee I invoke, whose might alone can quell contending rage and molestation fell. 'Tis thine in battle to confer the crown, the victor's prize, the mark of sweet renown; for thou rulest all things, Nike divine! And glorious strife, and joyful shouts are thine. Come, mighty Goddess, and thy suppliant bless, with sparkling eyes, elated with success; may deeds illustrious thy protection claim, and find, led on by thee, immortal fame."
- Orphic Hymn 33 to Nike 

Although often considered a minor Goddess, Nike (Νίκη, pronounced 'ni-KÉ', unlike the sport's brand 'NÍ-kee'), winged Goddess of victory, had a privileged position in ancient Hellas; the same position She should have for any modern Hellenist who partakes in any type of competition, battle--medical, moral, political, judicial, social--who is looking for love, or is locked in some other type of struggle.

According to Hesiod, Nike was born one of four siblings: her brothers Kratos (Κράτος, 'strength') and Zelus (Ζῆλος, 'zeal'), and her sister Bia (Βία, 'Force'). Their parents are Pallas and Styx. When the Titanomachy broke out, Zeus called out to everyone to take the side of the Theoi in the war. Styx answered the call and reported for duty along with Her children. Nike became Zeus' charioteer and is often depicted by His side for it. Along with her siblings, Nike, was also a sentinel to Him, standing beside his throne. With Victory on his side, Zeus simply could not lose.

Another deity Nike is closely related to, is Athena. In fact, some say Nike is an epithet of Athena, most commonly referred to as 'Nike Athena'. In this regard, Nike Athena is an epithet of Athena that is closely related to 'winged thought'; a great intellect, and victory through tactical planning of the upcoming battle.

It is not odd to find Nike in the presence of Athena and Zeus: both rarely--if ever--lose. Victory is always on their sides. Other Theoi Nike favors are Ares and Hera; Ares as the victor of battle, Hera--presumably--as the victor of just judgement, like Athena. In some versions of the myth, Nike is the daughter of Ares and an unknown female. This is most notably so in Homeric Hymn 8 to Ares:

"[Ares] father of warlike (eupolemos) Nike, ally of Themis."

Nike is most often portrayed as a young woman with a billowy dress and beautiful wings attached to Her back. Both the statue of Zeus at Olympia and the statue of Athena at the Parthenon held a statue of Her in Their right hand. Two world famous statues of Her have survived more or less intact: the Winged Victory of Samothrace, as pictured above, and the statue of Nike by the hand of Paeonius.

There are also references to other statues of her, most notably one on the Acropolis in Athens where She had her own sanctuary. The temple of Apteros Nike ('Wingless Victory') was a small temple with eight Ionic columns. The wooden statue of Nike that was placed in there was wingless on purpose: the Athenians wanted Nike to stay in their city for ever and never fly away. Nike is also portrayed on the Olympic medals.

We all have struggles in our lives that we could use some divine help on. Especially when there can be only one winner, Nike is a wonderful deity to give sacrifice to. In the Orphic tradition, she was appeased with fumigations from Manna--Frankincense crushed to a powder. She will also accept libations of (red) wine. Speak of the speed with which She flies, the justness of Her judgements and the importance of Her duty.

If you wish to simply honor Her, try to think of Her when you see a competition going on which She will eventually settle, be it the presidential campaign, a sports event or a fight. Remember how often Nike passes just judgement upon mortals--and the Theoi--and how severe Her influence is on our lives. Once you realize that, you will never be able to see her as a 'minor' Goddess again.

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