Nike of Samothrace is a Greek marble sculpture created in second century BC. From the inscription on the base of the sculpture, modern scholars suggest that the sculpture was commissioned to celebrate and commemorate a sea victory by Rhodes, one of the most powerful maritime state in the Aegean. The figure of this sculpture is the Greek goddess of Victory, Nike. Through the force and tension in the thighs of Nike and the forwarding pose, the sculpture conveys a sense of action and excitement. Yet the drapery fabrics of Nike also indicate the feminine and tender elements within her spirit, and glorify feminism and beauty.
Ancient Greeks and Romans were extremely interested in the ideal beauty of human bodies and created many art pieces representing such ideal (Tanner 264). Yet in this case of Nike of Samothrace, the meaning of this female figure is deeper than its mere beauty. Nike symbolizes war, strength, wit and triumph, opening up a new chapter of society’s view of women. Throughout history, women has constantly remained inferiors to men and subordinated to give up rights that belonged to any human being. Instead of obtaining their rights and liberty as equal to men, women have been considered to belong to a lower social hierarchy and their abilities have been greatly underestimated. Yet the figure of Nike in this sculpture is a page-turner of women’s submission.
While victory is so often associated with muscular men, Nike of Samothrace is not focused on the physical strength of individuals, but rather the wits and everything beneath the appearance. Nike does not seem strong at all--she does not own bulky muscles or fiery face, instead, her figure is full of confidence, energetic and compelling. The sculpture emphasizes on the inside rather than the outside, the spirit rather than the gender; it displays the potential strength of women and the equality between different genders.
Tanner, Jeremy. "Nature, Culture and the Body in Classical Greek Religious Art." World Archaeology Archaeology and Aesthetics 33.2 (2001): 257-76. Jstor. Taylor & Francis, Ltd. Web. <http://www.jstor.org/stable/827902>.