Tattoos Inspired By Stoicism

Marcus Aurelius Forearm Tattoo @browntattoo

Are you fascinated by the lives of the Stoics? Does the philosophy of bearing your burden without shaking your fist at the sky appeal to you?

The ideas and thoughts of Stoicism have surpassed their 300 B.C Athens origins, and are still as relevant – and some argue as needed – today as they were in Ancient Greece. This endearing philosophy with principles that have traversed geography and time is a powerful source of inspiration for tattoos.  

Let’s dive into the meaning of Stoicism, what it takes to be a Stoic, and the best Stoic tattoos to consider. 

‘Stoicism’ And Wave Tattoo @tattoo_maslo

What Is Stoicism? 

Stoicism was a branch of philosophy that gained traction in the Hellenistic period, the time of Alexander the Great and the forging of the Roman Empire. 

What was unique about Stoicism is that it was relevant for everyone – from teachers and manual laborers, to emperors and even slaves. The Stoic way of life was a school of thought that everyone could benefit from. 

Stoicism began with a tragedy that would have knocked most people down. In the third century B.C, a merchant named Zeno was shipwrecked on a trading voyage leaving him with almost nothing to his name. It was then that he was introduced to philosophy.

From there, he developed his own school of thought and gained a number disciples who would attend his discussions on Stoicism. 

According to Daily Stoic, Zeno joked,

“I made a prosperous voyage when I suffered shipwreck.”

This quote shows that, in true Stoic fashion, he was able to see the lesson – the positives – from a seemingly negative experience. 

‘Memento Mori’ Hand Tattoo @ebtattooer

What Are The Main Beliefs Of Stoicism

There are four main pillars that Stoicism’s principles fall under: Wisdom, justice, courage, and moderation. The Stoics believe that following these four virtues makes for a well-lived life.

“To approach life in this way involves a complete revolution in our thinking and attitudes. We must stop believing that happiness consists in things and realize instead that it consists alone in virtuous living,”

Daily Stoic

In Stoicism, emphasis is given to being able to handle the cards that Fate deals us without crumbling or asking, “Why me?” According to this philosophy, we all have what it takes to thrive beyond hardship. 

Marcus Aurelius And ‘Memento Mori’ Tattoo @sameastwick

Who Can Be A Stoic? 

As stated above, Stoicism is a club open to all, no matter what your perceived “station” is in life. 

Historically speaking, the ranks of Stoicism is chock-full of famous names. 

One of the most famous Roman Emperors, Marcus Aurelius, was also a Stoic philosopher. It was in large part due to his Stoic belief system that he was known to be such a great ruler – he was the last of the Five Good Emperors of Rome.

He documented his rule in a diary which we can still read today. Meditations is full of examples of Aurelius’ advice for life, such as:

“If it is not right, do not do it, if it is not true, do not say it.”

“Discard your misperceptions. Stop being jerked like a puppet. Limit yourself to the present.”

“You could leave life right now. Let that determine what you do and say and think.”

Moving ahead in time and to the new world, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln were men who often let Stoic beliefs guide them. Today, billionaires Like Warren Buffett, Jeff Bezos, and Mark Cuban have been known to incorporate Stoic principles in their businesses and lives. 

4 Stoic Tattoo Ideas 

‘Memento Mori’ Tattoo @shauncey

Memento Mori 

This is Latin for “Remember, you will die.” This phrase – which dates back to Socrates, another famous Greek philosopher – has strong roots in Stoicism.  

It’s a reminder to think about your mortality and the fact that you won’t always be here. So, make the most of the present. Don’t wallow. Pick up your burden and carry it virtuously.

A “Memento Mori” word tattoo can be a powerful reminder to live life today and to stop being bogged down with the past or the future. 

Marcus Aurelius Tattoo @hami_shin

Marcus Aurelius Bust 

Emperor Marcus Aurelius is one of the most well-known Stoics. The fact that he allowed his reign to be led by Stoic principles and belief resulted in what is known as the Golden Age of the Roman Empire. 

“Marcus was forever proposing to himself unattainable goals of conduct, forever contemplating the triviality, brutishness, and transience of the physical world and of humanity in general and himself in particular; otherworldly, yet believing in no other world, he was therefore tied to duty and service with no hope, even of everlasting fame, to sustain him,”


While he could’ve seized ultimate control of the Empire, he instead shared the throne with his adoptive brother, living the Stoic virtues of justice and self-control.

Aurelius was no stranger to tragedy – he lost most of his children in his lifetime. Still, he did not let the losses turn him from being a great ruler. 

A Marcus Aurelius bust tattoo can be a call to live life like the philosopher king, letting the principles of Stoicism guide you instead of allowing the tragedies of life engulf you.

Hourglass And Roses Tattoo @migamtt

Hourglass Tattoo

This is another tattoo idea relating to the limited time we have here on earth. 

Each grain of sand that falls is a reminder of the fleeting nature of this life, and that death waits for no man. 

But, the focus on death isn’t to be afraid of the end. Instead, Stoicism is all about making the most of the time you have by living your life wisely, and that death is part of the natural order of things, and not something to fear.

Stoic Virtues Tattoo @newmantattoo

Main Pillars Of Stoicism Tattoo

The four simple virtues of Stoicism: Wisdom, justice, courage, and moderation. To be a Stoic, one must strive to incorporate these four things into daily life.

Are you furthering your knowledge and skills? Are you acting fairly towards others? Are you bravely standing up for what’s right? Do you have self-control?

These are guiding questions a Stoic can ask themselves as they attempt to travel the virtuous path. When it comes to symbols that represent these values, there are various options. Wisdom can be symbolized with a book, justice with scales, courage with a lion, and moderation with wine, for example.

‘Memento Mori’ And Skull Tattoo @jamesramostattoo

Stoicism has stood the test of time, with its school of thought still popular in the 21st century. In fact, Stoic books are still popular – Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations is still sold today, and, the more recent, The Daily Stoic, is a Wall Street Journal number one best seller. 

The philosophy of Stoicism is a fantastic well in which to find inspiration for a tattoo that will always be relevant.

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