Roman Greek Tattoos (Unearthing The Similarities And Differences)

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Roman Greek tattoos tell the story of two ancient civilizations thriving by the Mediterranean Sea. These tattoo designs are accounts of the culture, history, and mythology of these civilizations.

Further, with contemporary techniques, these tattoos are great instruments for connecting the past to the present for modern tattoo enthusiasts.

Many people find Greek and Roman tattoos similar. Yes, there are many similarities, but you also have to understand the differences if you seek authenticity in your designs. 

So, are you ready to explore the similarities and differences between Greek and Roman tattoos? Here is a comprehensive guide. 

Roman Greek Tattoos: Why Are They Similar?

The similarities between Roman and Greek tattoos came from various similarities between these two cultures. Both cultures thrived in similar geographical locations, and they were similar in the way they celebrated their relationships with gods and goddesses.

Greek and Roman civilizations were dependent on the Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea. So, they shared similar values and beliefs about life.

However, the more striking similarities between these two civilizations came through their religious practices. In both civilizations, religion and mythology left a massive impact on art, sculpture, and even tattooing. So, there is no surprise in finding similarities in Greek and Roman tattoos.

Two Polytheistic Civilizations Showing Their Love For Various Deities Through Tattoo Designs

 

Romans and Greeks worshipped many gods. However, they prioritized their homogenous deities in their religious practices. In both civilizations, prayers, animal sacrifices, and festivals were the primary means of worshipping the gods.

Another similarity was in the depiction of gods and goddesses in human forms. Moreover, in both civilizations, Gods and Goddesses had human desires. 

There are even myths of many new gods taking birth out of the unions between Gods or Goddesses and mortals. The birth of Asclepius, out of the union of mortal Coronis and Apollo, and the birth of Hercules because of the union of Alcmene and Zeus are some of the popular examples in this regard.   

So, when you see a depiction of Zeus or Venus in any art form or even in tattoos, you will find them very anthropomorphic. 

Greeks and Romans attributed some special powers to their Gods. However, they never believed in the omnipotence of eternity of Gods. Thus, over the course of time, a few new deities were added to their groups of traditional gods. 

Various animals and other natural elements were associated with their traditional beliefs and cult practices. As a result, when you see an animal, bird, or flower in Roman Greek tattoos, it comes with deep symbolism. 

In addition, both civilizations, being heavily dependent on the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, had many water deities. Gods and goddesses like Poseidon, Oceanus, Neptune, and Nereids were popular influences in their lives. Naturally, they were present in Greek and Roman art forms and anything that thrived with a mythological influence. 

Roman Greek Tattoos: Where Are The Differences?

I have already shared a hint about how mythology was an important element in both ancient cultures. However, there were some differences in their cultures. 

Greek And Roman Tattoos Are Different In Their Prominent Themes 

When you read about Greek Gods and Goddesses, you will find them to possess virtues that lead to human excellence.

Greek gods and goddesses have virtues like wisdom, strength, authority, and intelligence. However, Roman Gods and Goddesses were mostly attributed to qualities like statesmanship, protective nature and qualities that were more utilitarian.

You may ask why this discussion is important in finding the differences between Roman and Greek tattoos. Let me explain! When you wear a Greek or Roman tattoo, along with being an ode to its respective culture, it also becomes an extension of your personality or what you value in your life. To put it simply, Greek and Roman tattoos are different in their dominating themes and values. 

Roman And Greek Tattoos Are Different In Aesthetics 

In Greek culture, there was a lot of emphasis on the physical appearance or strength of the deities. Even today, when we speak of a handsome man, we refer to him as a Greek God.

So, any art form inspired by these Gods and Goddesses focused more on detailing and a realistic depiction of these divine figures. Greek tattoos are no exception to this.

However, in Roman culture, much was left to imagination regarding the physical attributes of the Gods and Goddess. So, Roman tattoos based on deities or mythology are more open to interpretations.

Which God Is Most Popular In Roman Greek Tattoos?

Apollo is surely the most popular God in Roman Greek tattoos. Also, he is the only god who is known by the same name in Greek and Roman cultures.

Associated with the Sun, Apollo is the god of healing, truth, prophecy, light, music, poetry, and dance. Apollo was born of the union of Zeus and Leto. Leto was banished by Hera, the wife of Zeus, and she gave birth to Apollo and his twin sister Artemis on the island of Delos.

Apollo also has an association with swans. According to Greek mythology, swans took seven rounds of the island upon the birth of Apollo and Artemis. The chariot gifted to Apollo by Zeus is also said to be drawn by swans. 

So, if you want to have one of the most popular Roman Greek tattoos, you can go for a realistic depiction of Apollo. You can even choose a swan design for your body art.

Further, if you are looking for a more meaningful design, you can consider getting an Apollo and Artemis tattoo. It symbolizes the duality of our lives, the union of complementary forces, and harmony in our lives. 

Popular Roman Greek Tattoos Inspired By Gods And Goddess

Greek and Roman civilizations worshipped many gods and goddesses. Thanks to their similarities in geographical locations and their way of living, they had gods and goddesses denoting similar virtues or qualities, albeit with different names. 

Many Roman and Greek tattoos take inspiration from these Gods and Goddesses. Here, I have made an attempt to curate meaningful tattoo ideas based on Greek and Roman pantheons of Gods. I will also discuss how Gods with different names in these cultures are actually the same. 

1. Hera Or Juno Tattoo 

It’s time to pay homage to the queen of gods, Hera or Juno. Hera is Zeus’s wife, and she rides a chariot pulled by the peacocks. Other creatures that symbolize Hera are cows and cuckoos. So, in Greek cultures, these creatures are considered sacred. 

Hera is worshipped by women as the goddess of marriage, fertility, and childbirth. 

2. Ares Or Mars Tatoo

Ares, or Mars, is the god of war. Ares, or his Roman counterpart Mars is always seen in his armor. People in Sparta worshipped Ares, though many people did not see him as a part of the main Greek pantheons of gods.

The dislike of many people for him grew as he represented blood lust or violent war. Athena, the half-sister of Ares and also the goddess of warfare, was associated with more civilized conduct. 

However, Roman civilization held Mars in high esteem. As a nation, Rome was more inclined toward war. So, in Roman culture, Mars was only second to Jupiter. People worshipped him as the protector of Rome. 

An Ares or Mars tattoo will be illustrative in nature. So, it will be ideal for your chest or back. You can even have an adaptation of this tattoo on your arm sleeve. 

3. Poseidon Or Neptune Tattoo 

Poseidon is the brother of Zeus and Hades, the rules of the heaven and the underworld in Greek mythology. Romans know him by the name of Neptune. He is also the god of earthquakes and horses. 

Poseidon has a three-pronged spear or a trident, often found in many tattoos, symbolically depicting the Greek sea god. Pegasus, or a winged horse, and dolphins are also seen as the symbols of Poseidon.

Poseidon tattoos are dramatic, and they need a bigger canvas for proper depiction. So, your chest or back will be the ideal body part for the placement of these tattoos. 

4. Demeter or Ceres Tattoo

Greek and Roman cultures were heavily based on agriculture. So, there is no wonder that both civilizations had an agricultural goddess to worship. Greeks called her Demeter, and Romans worshipped them as Ceres. 

She was also the goddess of earth’s fertility, and she presided over the natural cycle of life and death. 

In many art forms, including Greek tattoos, Demeter is seen with a torch. It signifies her search for her daughter Persephone, whom Hades abducted. However, Plants started dying as Demeter’s focus shifted to searching for her daughter. 

With time, Persephone returned and her mother started taking care of the plants again, helping them grow. In Greek mythology, this story is depicted as the reason behind the change of seasons. 

5. Athena or Minerva Tattoo 

Athena is the goddess of warfare and wisdom. She is popular as Minerva in Roman mythology. Myths have it that Athena was born out of Zeus’s forehead. 

This goddess also has an association with olive trees and leaves. An Athena tattoo looks great on the arm sleeve or on the thighs. You can even get it inked on your back. 

6. Artemis or Diana Tattoo

Artemis, or Diana, was Apollo’s twin sister. In many tattoos, Artemis and Apollo are seen together to denote balance or harmony in our lives. 

She is the goddess of chastity and childbirth. She also protects wild animals. So, if you are a wildlife enthusiast or want to maintain chastity, you can go for a goddess Artemis or Diana tattoo. 

7. Aphrodite or Venus Tattoo 

In Greek tradition, Aphrodite is the goddess of love, beauty, and passion. Goddess Venus is her Roman counterpart. Roses, myrtles, and doves are the symbols of this beautiful goddess, who is often the inspiration behind Greek or Roman tattoos. 

You can even go for a palm branch tattoo to show an association with this goddess. 

8. Hephaistos or Vulcan Tattoo 

Greek Hephaistos, or Roman Vulcan, was the god of fire. He was the husband of Aphrodite. He was the maestro of craftsmanship for the gods, and he made weapons for them and mortals blessed with special powers.

It is Hephaistos who made the winged sandals of Hermes and the armor of Achilles. Along with a full-figure depiction of Hephaistos, you can also choose tons, hammers, or anvils to symbolically portray this god through your tattoo design. 

9. Hermes or Mercury Tattoo 

In Greek mythology, Hermes was the messenger of gods. In Roman culture, he got the name of Mercury. Romans also worshipped Mercury as the protector of travelers and livestock.

Caduceus, or a wand wrapped with intertwined serpents, is seen as the symbol of Hermes. Caduceus is also a popular symbol in Egyptian tattoos, meaning coherency and the balance of masculine and feminine energies.

He was the son of Zeus and a nymph, Maia. Also, he wore winged sandals for swift transportation between the mortal and the divine world.

So, if you seek to build a connection to the divine world, you can plan to get a Hermes or Mercury tattoo on your back. 

Final Words

Roman Greek tattoos beautifully depict how Greek and Roman civilizations are similar yet different. Majorly influenced by religion and mythology, these tattoos are beyond aesthetic designs. They depict a particular way of living, human beliefs, and the relationship of mortals with the divine.

Having said that, Greek and Roman tattoos are different in the values they want to project and the precision of the designs. Greek tattoos are more defined, while Roman tattoos are more open to interpretations. 

So, if you are planning to get a Greek or Roman tattoo, you can explore the designs I have discussed here. I have explained the meaning of these designs thoroughly so that you know which design you are going to wear. 

Also, if you have other insights about Greek and Roman cultures or Greek and Roman tattoos, don’t forget to share those with us!

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