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Greek mythology is one of the most popular and well-known of all the world’s mythologies. Its mythical scenes have been common in paintings, sculpture, decorative arts, visual media, and now in tattoos. If you’re looking for body art filled with narratives, Greek mythology tattoos are perfect for you. Most of these have moral values or a message of sorts, making them meaningful and special. We have rounded up the best ideas on these tattoos, from Greek gods and goddesses to heroes and powerful creatures.
What is a Greek Mythology Tattoo?
Greek mythology tattoos depict the stories of the gods, goddesses, heroes and mythological creatures of Greek mythology. The ancient Greeks created these myths to explain the nature of life, natural phenomena, unfamiliar experiences and religious beliefs. While these are simply stories to us now, at the time, they were a part of people’s daily lives, informing everything they did.
Greek mythology tattoos are extremely diverse. There are many ways to incorporate some Greek myth into your body art, from small, subtle touches to dramatic designs. You can make the design more personal by choosing a powerful figure that resonates with you. The tattoo you choose can help describe your individuality, narrate your life experiences, and even remind you of powerful lessons.
Greek Mythology Tattoos and Their Meanings
The meaning of your Greek myth tattoo will depend on the design itself. Each can hold morals and virtues associated with Greek gods and goddesses, or even tell a story that resonates with the wearer. Here are some of the most popular options for Greek mythology tattoos.
Gods and Goddesses Tattoos
The Greek myths are all about the gods, and many of the stories narrate the origin and lives of the gods. If you want a tattoo design that gives you the feeling of being invincible, think of the Olympian gods who were the major deities of the Greek pantheon.
- Zeus – King of the Olympian gods, and often referred to as the god of the sky and the thunder. In tattoos, he’s commonly depicted with a long, flowing beard, throwing flashes of lightning from his weapon, the lightning bolt. Since Zeus was the most powerful of the Greek gods, this tattoo is perfect for symbolizing power, authority and dominance.
- Poseidon – God of the sea, Poseidon had the ability to create storms and control the waters. In tattoos, he’s typically pictured holding a trident, and sometimes shown riding his chariot pulled by hippocampi (the fishtailed horses of the sea). Since he was a powerful deity who protected sailors, a Poseidon tattoo can be great choice if you need power and protection in your life.
- Hades – Although not considered an Olympian, Hades was the god of the Underworld. In tattoos, he’s commonly depicted with a bident or a two-pronged pitchfork, and sometimes with his three-headed dog Cerberus. Whether you want to channel your inner villain or be a judge of your own life, this tattoo is perfect for you.
- Hera – The wife of Zeus, Hera was the Queen of Olympus and regarded as being highly powerful. She’s commonly pictured wearing a crown, robe and a lotus scepter. In ancient Greece, many prayed to her for good health and protection during childbirth. She’s seen as a mother figure, which makes this tattoo perfect for women to symbolize their strength.
- Athena –The Greek goddess of wisdom, defense and war, Athena was among the most loved and respected of the ancient Greek gods. As a warrior goddess, she’s commonly portrayed wearing a helmet and holding a spear. If you want to show the world that you’re a strong, independent woman, think of this tattoo.
- Aphrodite – She was the goddess of love and beauty and is commonly portrayed in tattoos as a woman with stunning appearance. Sometimes, she’s pictured with a scallop shell, apple, or swan, all of which are her symbols. She’s thought to bring luck in romance, as she had the ability to cause fighting couples to fall in love again.
If you love adventures and want to embody heroic qualities such as courage, bravery and perseverance, think of these Greek heroes for your tattoo.
- Heracles – Also known by his Roman name Hercules, Heracles was strong and fought many monsters and villains in his adventures. He’s best known for his 12 labors, the twelve impossible tasks given to him by Eurystheus, the King of Tiryns.
- Achilles – He was the greatest hero of the Trojan War and the central character in Homer’s Iliad.
Achilles’ heel is a symbol of his vulnerability, which is something everyone has, regardless of how strong he appears. As a legendary warrior and war hero, Achilles is associated with extraordinary strength, courage and loyalty.
- Odysseus – The hero of Homer’s epic poem, the Odyssey, Odysseus was a great king and a mighty warrior, known for his intellect, bravery, wit and cunning. If you’re experiencing many trials and tribulations, an Odysseus tattoo can serve as an inspiration for you.
Greek mythology also includes a number of strange creatures with unique capabilities. While most of them are depicted as monstrous, some carry meaningful symbolism.
- Medusa –Known for snakes on her hair, and the ability to turn someone into stone with just a stare, Medusa’s head (known as a Gorgoneion) has been used as a talisman for centuries. . If you want to make a femme fatale statement, think of a Medusa tattoo. Some think of this tattoo as a talisman to ward off evil, while others regard it as a symbol of power and sexuality.
- Centaur – These half-human half-horse creatures were commonly depicted as lustful and wild, but the exception is Chiron who was noted for his teaching abilities and medicinal skills. A centaur tattoo is perfect for those who are bold, fierce and not easily persuaded by others.
- Pegasus – The winged horse was the offspring of Poseidon and Medusa. Pegasus was tamed by Perseus, and eventually ascended to Mount Olympus and served the gods. Nowadays, a Pegasus tattoo is thought to symbolize freedom, independence and liberty.
Greek Mythology Weapons
If you want a subtle tattoo design, think of powerful weapons associated with Greek gods and goddesses instead of their portrait. These symbols helped the ancient Greeks to differentiate a specific god or goddess.
- Zeus’ Thunderbolt – Zeus is commonly depicted with a thunderbolt in his hand as a symbol of his authority over gods and mortals. It was the most powerful weapon in Greek mythology fashioned for him by the Cyclopes. It’s a great tattoo of choice if you want to embody Zeus’ power in a subtle way.
- Poseidon’s Trident – The magical three-pronged spear was able to create tsunami waves that could sink ships or flood islands. If Poseidon struck the ground with his trident, it would cause catastrophic earthquakes. In tattoos, it’s regarded as a symbol of power and strength.
- Hermes’ Caduceus – Recognized as a winged staff with two interwoven serpents, the caduceus is the symbol of Hermes—the god of commerce and thieves. It was a unique weapon that could put people into a coma or force them into sleep. The symbol is also associated with rebirth, rejuvenation, fertility, harmony and balance.
- Eros’s Bow – As a Greek god of love and sex, Eros (or Cupid as he is known in Roman mythology) used his special bow and arrow to make love, not war. However, if he used lead arrows instead of gold, it would cause people hate the first person they saw after being shot. Nowadays, Cupid’s bow and arrow is thought to attract luck in romantic relationships.
Styles of Greek Mythology Tattoos
From the depiction of ancient statues to colorful designs, here are some of the best styles for your Greek mythology tattoo:
Portrait Greek Mythological Tattoos
Having a portrait of a Greek god or goddess on your body feels empowering. This tattoo style looks like a drawing on paper, giving an artistic vibe to the design. These designs tend to highlight the facial expression of a certain god or goddess.
Illustrative Greek Mythology Tattoos
These tattoos are colorful, reminding us of the illustrations in comics and books. Gods, goddesses and heroes are depicted in full-body figure with their weapons and symbols. The tattoo can also be narrative by combining elements related to the Greek mythology, as well as portraying the gods in their natural surroundings.
3D Greek Mythology Tattoos
Take your Greek mythology tattoo to the next level with a 3D style, looking like the design is jumping out from your skin. A tattoo artist typically uses heavy shading and white ink to create these effects. It’s the style of tattoo you should get if you like the appeal of Greek statues in museums. It’s also meant to showcase the beauty of Greek art and sculpture, as the tattoo itself looks like it was made of marble.
Blackwork Greek Mythology Tattoos
If you want a tattoo design that steals the spotlight, opt for blackwork technique that utilizes negative space, bold lines and black ink. It’s quite intimidating for a Greek mythology tattoo, as the artist will literally black out large sections of your skin. It’s a great option for simpler figures and symbols such as weapons, as well as Pegasus or Medusa silhouettes.
Celebrities with Greek Mythology Tattoos
You’ll be surprised just how popular Greek mythology tattoos are, especially among celebrities.
- There are several meanings associated with Zeus’ thunderbolt in different cultures, but a thunderbolt is undeniably a symbol of power. Singers Avril Lavigne, Haley Williams, Lynn Gunn and Linda Perry sport thunderbolt tattoos. Also, Ariana Grande has a little outline of a thunderbolt inked behind her right ear, while her ex-boyfriend Pete Davidson also has one on his wrist. Thunderbolt tattoos are also a favorite of fashion icons, as French model Camille Rowe sports one on her left arm, while Italian fashion blogger Chiara Ferragni boasts three of them on her left hand.
- Who would have thought that Poseidon’s trident would look great as couple tattoos? After five months of dating, Miley Cyrus and Cody Simpson marked their relationship with matching trident tattoos. They were inked by artist Nico Bassill, where he made Miley’s body art thinner than Cody’s tattoo design. It’s also thought to be associated with Simpson’s poetry career under the name Prince Neptune.
- Aphrodite was the Greek goddess of love, beauty and sexuality—and many celebrities find her inspiring. In fact, she’s the favorite goddess of Rita Ora, so the singer got an Aphrodite tattoo on her arm. American actress Dove Cameron can also resonate with the Olympian goddess, so she got a “Do It for Aphrodite” tattoo.
- The Medusa tattoo is a symbol of female power. American actress Lisa Bonet has one on her left forearm, while Margaret Cho flaunts a large Medusa tattoo across her abdomen. American rapper Aaron Carter finds Medusa inspiring, boasting his large Medusa tattoo on the side of his face, which he revealed was in honor of his mother Jane.
Greek mythology has been influential for thousands of years, and its influence can be seen everywhere in modern culture. From stories of love and vengeance to epic adventures, they remain relevant for their moral values and inspiration. By getting a Greek mythology tattoo, you’ll not only embody the courageous heroes and powerful gods, but also carry a piece of history with you.