If you’re looking for epic tales of gods, goddesses, monsters, and heroes to serve as tattoo inspiration, look no further than Greek mythology. From the strength and power of Zeus to the wisdom of Athena, there is a lot to dive into when it comes to Greek mythology tattoos.
The ancient Greeks were polytheistic, meaning that they believed in multiple gods and goddesses that looked over and had their way with humans. Not only that, they also had various semi-gods and supernatural beings that had their own parts in the running of the world.
Gods and goddesses had a hierarchy, with Zeus being at the top of Mount Olympus, the abode of the heavenly beings. If you go into this hierarchy, you come to a super complicated family tree – intricate, and fascinating.
Let’s start with a few of the most popular Greek gods that serve as tattoo inspiration:
The King Of The Gods, Zeus
The father figure of both gods and humans, Zeus was seen as the weather and sky god with his very own thunderbolt. He had a very interesting upbringing, and he wasn’t always seen as the king of Mount Olympus.
“According to a Cretan myth that was later adopted by the Greeks, Cronus, king of the Titans, upon learning that one of his children was fated to dethrone him, swallowed his children as soon as they were born. But Rhea, his wife, saved the infant Zeus by substituting a stone wrapped in swaddling clothes for Cronus to swallow and hiding Zeus in a cave on Crete,”Britannica
Zeus was nursed by a nymph and protected by a company of soldiers as a baby. When he became an adult, he led a revolt to take his father’s throne.
So, what does a tattoo of Zeus mean?
Due to him being the king of the gods and his successful uprising against Cronus, a Zeus tattoo often represents strength and power.
“He could also represent the yin/yang qualities that life has. He was kind and merciful to some, while being cruel and malicious with others. He can represent the complicated relationship between our higher selves and our base urges,”Tatt Mag
When Zeus overthrew Cronus, he didn’t do it alone – he had the help of his brother, Poseidon.
Take To The Sea With Poseidon
In Greek mythology, after the downfall of Cronus, the world was divided among Zeus and his two brothers. Zeus got the heavens, Hades got the underworld, and Poseidon got the ocean.
As explained by Greek Gods and Goddesses, Poseidon not only had dominion over the sea, but he also ruled over horses and earthquakes. The legends of the ancient Greeks told of his ability to use his trident to strike the ground to produce an earthquake, and his chosen mode of transportation was a chariot pulled by horses.
When it comes to Poseidon tattoos, Tattoo Insider says,
“Symbols associated with Poseidon include the bull, dolphin, fish, horse and the Trident. A Poseidon tattoo can represent many things including great power, strength, a connection with water and the sea, and a love of marine life.”
As he was the god of the sea, Poseidon can also be inspiration for a sailor themed tattoo, as sailors called to him for safe navigation over the waters.
Apollo And His Sun Chariot
The son of Zeus, Apollo was a busy god who had dominion over a lot. According to Greek Mythology, he was the god of the sun and light, music and poetry, healing and plagues, prophecy and knowledge, order and beauty, archery and agriculture. All this, and he pulled the sun across the sky with his golden chariot and four horses.
“Apollo was a much-loved god, and this was most likely due to his association with many positive aspects of the human condition such as music, poetry, purification, healing, and medicine. The god was also associated with moderation in all things. His arrows, although they could bring destruction, could also ward off harm to those he favored,”World History
One strategy that ancient Greeks practiced to keep evil away from the home was to set up a pillar of Apollo.
When it comes to the meaning of an Apollo tattoo, the symbolism can take a few routes. As he is associated with the arts, Apollo is a great choice for a music or poetry themed tattoo.
The goddesses of Greek mythology offer a rich tapestry of stories that can fill a full body with ink:
The Goddess Of The Night, Nyx
Did you know that there was a deity that even Zeus feared? No, it wasn’t his brother, the god of the underworld, Hades, or even Cronus who tried to eat him, but the goddess Nyx.
Daughter of Chaos, Nyx made her home in the depths of the underworld.
This shadowy figure was unique in Greek mythology, as explained by Greek Gods and Goddesses,
“She can impact mankind in a good or bad way. Her ability to bring sleep or death unto the human race. This is not the goddess to mess with. Zeus even feared Nyx because she was older and stronger than him. She is the only goddess he’s ever feared. That speaks volumes of her power. The moonstone is used to honor her to this day. It reflects its owner and should be used during the full moon.”
As such, a moon tattoo is a symbol that can be inspired by Nyx. This goddess of the night has been depicted with a crown and wings in Greek art, and is often personified as a beautiful woman.
A Being Of Beauty And Love, Aphrodite
One of the most popular Greek goddesses is Aphrodite, who was associated with love, passion, and beauty.
The famous depiction of her, The Birth Of Venus (the Romans knew her as Venus), tells the tale of her birth – which was extremely unusual, even for the Greek gods and goddesses.
When the previous god of the heavens, Uranus, was defeated, his son, Cronus castrated him and threw his genitals into the ocean. This caused the sea to foam, the result of which was the goddess Aphrodite.
While an Aphrodite tattoo can symbolize love and beauty, it can also mean strength. As Tattoo SEO points out,
“Aphrodite was a sign of female strength. She was a goddess that knew her own beauty and used it to her advantage.”
The Warrior Athena
Never swayed by romantic love, Zeus’ daughter and the goddess of war and wisdom, Athena, wielded a shield that could turn her enemies to stone.
She helped the heroes of Greek legends a lot: from assisting Hercules in his 12 Labors, to aiding Perseus in figuring out how to defeat the snake-haired Medusa. The goddess of wisdom was – unsurprisingly – a key figure to ask for help in trying times.
If you’re someone who has a clear focus, and who doesn’t want to be swayed, an Athena tattoo could be for you. An Athena tattoo can be a symbol of wisdom, strength, and victory.
Other symbols of Athena to add to a tattoo design include an owl and snake.
So, should you get a mythical Greek-themed tattoo? The tales of ancient cultures can speak a lot to the human condition and what we wish to learn from. A Zeus tattoo could remind you to control your anger, while a Nyx tattoo can reference your quiet strength. What matters is that you choose a tattoo design that’s meaningful to you.