Athena Nike

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"Nike" means Victory in Greek, and Athena was worshiped in this form, as goddess of victory, on the Acropolis of Athens.

Her temple, started by the architect Kallikrates in 437 BC and completed around 427 BC, during the unrest of the Peloponnesian War, was the earliest Ionic temple on the Acropolis sanctuary.

Made completely of marble, its small size was compensated for in its position, resting on a rocky outcrop on the south side of the Propylaia, purposely positioned so the Athenian people could worship the goddess of victory in hope of a successful outcome in a military conflict. The decision to build the Temple of Athena Nike was an expression of Athens's ambitions to be a world power as opposed to Persia. The frieze on the temple displays the decisive victory over the Persians at the Battle of Plataea and a meeting between the gods Athena, Zeus and Poseidon. The battle helped Athenians reminisce the glory days of victory, hoping such previous outcomes would repeat in the future. The meeting of the gods signifies Athenian religious beliefs and if the temple was to be worshipped there may have been hope of creating favour with the gods which would have been necessary to 5th Century Athenians in the contemporary political climate. Once the temple was completed the Athenians added a protective parapet. The parapet displayed an expression of determination and hope for final victory. This was not the only piece of sculpture which shows Athens determination to prevail in her the long battle with Sparta. Later Greeks appear to have found the cult title Athena Nike confusing. They called her Apteros Nike, Wingless Victory. They told the story that the wings of her cult statue had been removed by the Athenians hoping she would remain in Athens and not fly away to the Spartans.