Victoria – Winged Victory

Winged Victory. Roman, Bronze, second quarter of the 1st century C.E. Santa Giulia Museum, Italy.

This statue was discovered on July 20th 1826 during excavations of the Capitolium of ancient Brixia, modern Brescia.  It is one of the very few discoveries of well-preserved Roman bronze statuary, and the only one existing in the north of Italy. It is composed of at least 30 parts, cast separately and later soldered together. The hair contains strands of damascened silver, and some traces of gilding remain on the right hand. The position of the arms suggests the statue may have originally held a shield, and the raised left foot is believed to have rested upon a helmet. The pose is virtually the same as the Perge Aphrodite, so the statue may have started out as a Venus and was then modified for a customer to become a WInged Victory.

When Christianity became the official religion of the Empire, all pagan symbols were destroyed and many bronze statues were melted as scrap. This statue of Victory was preserved by believers who hid it, with other bronze artifacts, in an cavity beneath the temple dedicated to the Capitoline Trio.

Today, July 17, the ancient Romans observed a festival in honor of the goddess Victoria. Like her Greek counterpart Nike, Victoria grants success in war, victory in competitions, and awards immortal fame.

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