Richard Hale is a tattoo enthusiast who studies and researches tattoo symbolism, meanings, and history.
Multiple Interpretations of the Medusa Legend
If you're looking for an interesting tattoo design inspired by ancient mythology, Medusa may be for you. In this article, I will discuss Medusa tattoo designs and meanings.
Medusa is a female character in Greek mythology. She was half Gorgon and was the child of Ceto and Phorcys. Her face was said to look like a monster and venomous snakes made up her hair. Anyone unlucky enough to stare directly at her face would be turned into stone. Eventually, Medusa was beheaded by Perseus.
There is another interpretation of the Medusa story, however: Ovid describes her as a regular human woman whose beauty attracted Poseidon's attention. After the god raped her in Athena's temple, the goddess punished her by turning her hair to snakes, cursing her with stone-turning looks, and dooming her to a life of loneliness.
Which story you believe—that she was a villain or a victim, evil or not—makes all the difference. But either way, Medusa is a powerful emblem, the inspiration for a long history of art. She has made many appearances in books, movies, and even video games. As a symbol, Medusa is still used today as an emblem of the flag of Sicily and in the coat of arms of the Dohalice village in the Czech Republic.
Positive Connotations of Medusa
Due primarily to interpretation of the legend wherein she was raped by Poseidon and further punished by Athena, Medusa has also come to serve as a powerful symbol of victims' resistance (especially women) to sexual assault, victim-blaming, and rape culture as a whole.
As such, the snake-haired mythological being even became the subject of a TikTok trend where those who boasted their Medusa tattoos proudly spoke about what the character means to them and how she connects to their lives and values.
Somewhat similarly, Medusa has also been seen as a representation of reclaiming the notion of the "harpy" or other identities perceived as harsh or otherwise undesirable—insults often hurled at women in particular for not being docile enough or otherwise just not conforming to what others expect of them.
Thus, Medusa can serve as a wonderfully malleable symbol of strength and resistance in the face of great external pressure or difficult circumstances of many different varieties.
What Does a Medusa Tattoo Represent?
This is a visually striking and deeply symbolic tattoo. In the end, your tattoo symbolizes what you want it too.
That said, below are the meanings that may be applied to the Medusa tattoo:
Possible Meanings and Symbolism of Medusa Tattoos
"Cycle of Life"
The snakes on Medusa's head are said to represent the natural cycle of life, symbolizing rebirth and death. Medusa was also said to have wings, which represent freedom.
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Medusa Tattoo Design Ideas
Medusa is perfect for someone looking to get a tattoo that's "out of the norm", and there are many ways to portray her.
In the legend, Medusa had a hideous face, so some tattoos give her the face of a monster. However, some choose to give her the face of an angel. Her face can be realistic looking or cartoonish, drawn in color or in black ink.
Make sure that you take the time to view all the different designs in this article. Don't copy anyone else's tattoo, but do look at all the ideas and take what you like to create your own unique design.
Things to Consider Before You Get Inked
There are some important things that you want to remember before you get this or any tattoo.
- Make sure that you take the time to research your tattoo and know what it represents. You don't want to get inked and find out later that it represents something different from what you first thought.
- Don't rush to get inked! People who rush usually have regrets about their tattoo later on down the road. Don't make this mistake. If you are having second thoughts or you're not completely sure about your choice, don't do it. Rethink your options and wait a few weeks. Once you're completely sure, get your tattoo. Remember, you are planning to wear this for the rest of your life.
More Tattoo Design Inspiration
- Mermaid Tattoo Meanings and Design Ideas
- Tattoo Ideas: Greek Words and Phrases
- Gorgeous and Badass Tattoo Ideas for Women
Val Strandberg on March 15, 2020:
Chinese emblems and phrases?
Trampakoylas on August 17, 2018:
Medusa was one of the three Gorgon sisters.It was not a beautiful woman but a petrifying monster.Nothing good nothing sweet about her.Ancient Greek warriors used her as an emblem on their shields to terrifie enemies.It was an intimidation and protection symbol.
Gage on September 02, 2017:
No no no look im a huge Greek mythology fan and mudusa is no supost to be ugly but al these pics were showing her as an old hag
Helen Murphy Howell from Fife, Scotland on October 30, 2012:
This awesome LW! I have to say that Medusa is one of my favourite Greek Myth characters and so misunderstood. I think she originally started off as a Mother Goddess but seemed to have been transformed over time into the snake headed gorgon that we're familiar with. The artwork of the tattoos are beautiful indeed and do capture her different dimensions. For me I would need to choose a positive meaning - but I'm biased of course!
I think as well, the bias may come in from an incident that happened to me many years ago. A psychic artist did a spiritual portrait of my guardian spirit and inner self & guide. He drew a head of medusa but the face was stunningly beautiful and I loved the artwork he produced. So there's my reason for being all in favour of the much maligned Medusa! LOL!
This was a fabulous hub and as always fascinating!! Voted up + shared!!
Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on October 27, 2012:
Quite eye-catching but I don't think I've ever seen this in real life. Interesting that some are just basic black, and others colorful. Voting this Up and Beautiful.
Shining Irish Eyes from Upstate, New York on October 24, 2012:
Always a stunning piece of fine tattoo examples. I wonder if people turn to stone after viewing them! LOL
Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on October 23, 2012:
A lot of color. Some are a bit scary. I guess Halloween would be a good time to get one..Not me.Hee
Gypsy Rose Lee from Daytona Beach, Florida on October 23, 2012:
Just amazing tattoos.
Alastar Packer from North Carolina on October 22, 2012:
Wonder if that Medusa in Clash of the Titans sparked folks up for Medusa tats. She was a wicked good Medusa in that flick and oh so deadly. The examples here are truly something, not sure how they come across to me yet though. Let come back again with a clear head and have another look-see again. Awesome style bro rick- you da man with the tat style hubs! Up awesome and useful!
Thomas Silvia from Massachusetts on October 22, 2012:
Awesome tattoos and beautifully detailed ,very colorful to !
Vote up and more !!!
Frank Atanacio from Shelton on October 22, 2012:
these tats can be sensual, I like the style and the details voted awesome as per usual!!!!
Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on October 22, 2012:
I was too tired last night to visit; I wanted you to get my full attention, so now you have it. I love these tattoos....something about the detail and artistry....and the subject matter....that I really enjoy. Good job Ricky!
Randi Benlulu from Mesa, AZ on October 21, 2012:
The details on these are amazing! Another great hub! Thank you! Up and awesome!