Nike is one of my favorite Greek deities, though in truth there’s not a whole lot to tell about her. She is known as the “Winged Goddess of Victory,” and was the daughter of the Titan Pallas, and Styx, a goddess of water. She is known to be able to run and fly at great speeds, and is often praised for her wings or for her “fine ankles.”
Nike and her siblings (Cretos, Bia and Zelus) were brought to Zeus by their mother during the war of the Titans, and she became the divine charioteer, rewarding the victors in battle with power and glory. Nike was a symbol of victory in many aspects of life, though, including athletics, which may not be a surprise, considering the shoe company that has taken her name.
She is connected closely to Zeus and to Pallas Athena, and originally was portrayed almost as a small fairy that would rest on the shoulder or arm of another deity… also, while in Athena’s company she is wingless, but when she is alone she retains her wings.
Nike is one of the most commonly-portrayed figures in classical art, which is another reason that I love her, being a bit of an art-history lover myself. She is often depicted with wings, and holding a laurel and palm branch, symbols of the glory and stature she is capable of bestowing on people. She was come to be seen as an intermediary of success between man and the gods. Of course, like many of the classical gods, Nike was known to be capricious, and not always completely fair in her dealings of victory.