Victoria (mythology)

Victoria in ancient Roman religion was the personified goddess of victory.[1] She is the Roman equivalent of the Greek goddess Nike, and was associated with the goddesses Bellona and Roma. She was adapted from the Sabine agricultural goddess Vacuna and had a temple on the Palatine Hill. The goddess Vica Pota was also sometimes identified with Victoria. Victoria is often described as a daughter of Pallas and Styx, and as a sister of Zelus, Kratos, and Bia.[2]

Victoria (Nike) on an antique fresco from Pompeii
Arch of Trajan (Benevento), with a pair of winged victories in the spandrels

Unlike the Greek Nike, the goddess Victoria (Latin for "victory") was a major part of Roman society. Multiple temples were erected in her honor. When her statue was removed in 382 CE by Emperor Gratianus there was much anger in Rome.[3][4] She was normally worshiped by triumphant generals returning from war.[1]

Also unlike the Greek Nike, who was known for success in athletic games such as chariot races, Victoria was a symbol of victory over death and determined who would be successful during war.[1]

Victoria appears widely on Roman coins,[5] jewelry, architecture, and other arts. She is often seen with or in a chariot, as in the late 18th-century sculpture representing Victory in a quadriga on the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany; "Il Vittoriano" in Rome has two. Nike or Victoria was the charioteer for Zeus in his battle to overtake Mount Olympus.


Victoria was depicted on both coins and gems alighting a globe.[6] This image is thought to be based on a statue of the goddess erected in the Curia Julia by Octavian in the year 29 BC.[7]

As Victoria was used to symbolise victory, she was often depicted holding or bearing objects associated with victory, such as the laurel wreath and/or palm branch.

Winged figures, very often in pairs, representing victory and referred to as winged victories, were common in Roman official iconography, typically hovering high in a composition, and often filling spaces in spandrels or other gaps in architecture.[8] These represent the spirit of victory rather than the goddess herself. Pairs of winged victories continued to appear after Christianization of the Empire and gradually evolved into depictions of Christian angels.[9] A pair, facing inwards, fitted very conveniently into the spandrels of arches, and have been very common in Triumphal arches and similar designs where a circular element is framed by a rectangle.


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c "Victoria". Retrieved 5 August 2015.
  2. ^ "Nike". Retrieved 5 August 2015.
  3. ^ Sheridan, J. J., "The Altar of Victory – Paganism's Last Battle." L'Antiquite Classique 35 (1966): 187.
  4. ^ Ambrose Epistles 17–18; Symmachus Relationes 1–3.
  5. ^ "All About Gold". Retrieved 5 August 2015.
  6. ^ Hölscher, Tonio (1967). Victoria Romana: Archäologische Untersuchungen zur Geschichte und Wesensart der römischen Siegesgöttin von den Anfängen bis zum Ende des 3. Jhs. n. Chr (in German). Mainz.
  7. ^ Bellinger & Berlincourt (1962). "Victory as a Coin Type". American Numismatic Society. 149: 1–68.
  8. ^ "Winged Victoria Spandrels". Retrieved 5 August 2015.
  9. ^ Doyle, Chris (2015). 'Declaring Victory, Concealing Defeat: Continuity and Change in Imperial Coinage of the Roman West, c. 383 – c. 408', in G. Greatrex, H. Elton (eds.) Shifting Genres in Late Antiquity. With the assistance of Lucas McMahon. Pp. xvi + 341, ills. Farnham, United Kingdom: Ashgate. pp. 157–71. ISBN 978-1-4724-4348-9.
  10. ^ "Oscar Gladenbeck (1850–1921)". Retrieved 18 June 2015.

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