Roman tattoos - thumb up or thumb down?

Latin back tattoo

Impressive piece of angel with the Latin inscription "dare to be prudent" (Source)

Although there are still people with prejudices, the truth is that tattoos and tattooed people increasingly have mmore acceptance among society. Unfortunately, this has not always been the case and tattoos have sometimes been considered a punishment inflicted on slaves or criminals.

Read this post to learn about one of the lesser-known eras of tattoos on which, curiously, one of the most famous tattoo fads is based. Indeed, we are talking about ancient culture and roman tattoos.

They came, saw and had fun

Romulus and Remus tattoo

Romulus and Remus and the she-wolf, the founders of the city of seven hills (Source)

The Romans They are known to be, along with the Greeks, one of the cradle cultures of Western civilization. They were the masters of most of Europe for a very long time and they cultivated a very rich culture, who had no prejudice to adopt elements from other cultures (such as "copying" the Greek gods) or to have fun.

In general, they were very advanced and were quite good people, they rode fun racing in chariots, they wrote interesting epics With cool heroes, they had a system of sewerage efficient and with the best name in the world (the Sewer Maxima), they had their leones well fed and mounted some important saraos, worthy of Hangover.

Hard times

Tattoo in latin

Precious piece with the Latin inscription «Sing your heart to say what you think» (Source)

Unfortunately, his politics with tattoos it wasn't that relaxed. In fact, it was another of the things that they adopted from other cultures: the first Roman tattoos were made by the Greeks, who used tattoos as a corporal punishment and to mark slaves.

This is the practice adopted by the Romans, an identification to mark the slaves and find them more easily if they escaped (if you have seen the movie Gladiator, surely you remember the protagonist tearing off the tattoo that has been done on his arm). They also tattooed the violators what they had done on the forehead or in other conspicuous places, so that the tattoo would be considered a punishment even after serving a sentence.

A hobby something beast

Emperor Caligula

Caligula, the sadistic emperor who tattooed for fun and doing harm (Source)

Besides being considered as the worst possible punishment, some emperors of the time took tattooing very seriously and took it to the next level. It is said that the emperor Caligula, a man who did not seem very friendly, was dedicated to wandering the cold marble corridors in his palace to tattoo the unwary the same. And to think that my grandfather complained when he drew a pen on his arm.

Fortunately, with the Emperor Constantine began the end of these atrocities and Roman tattoos, since a law was decreed in which it was considered sacrilege to tattoo people's faces because "it was made in the image of God."

An intact tradition

Legionnaire Tattoo

A fierce Roman legionnaire in a very cool tattoo (Source)

However, it is said that there was a type of roman tattoos that it was not frowned upon and that it was the first in a long tradition that goes back to today: the army tattoo. These tattoos were worn by legionaries of Hadrian's hosts. It is said that they probably had eagle shape or a small sample of the legion to which they belonged. These types of Roman tattoos are the ancestors of the well-known army or navy tattoos.

Writings of the time even go further and show the ingredients to make these tattoos, which include bark, bronze and vitriol. They were made with sharp needles, on well-cleaned skin, and the ink would spread once it bled.

Old Roman tattoos, today

Roman numerals tattoo

Roman numerals upside down tattoo (Source)

Without a doubt, Roman culture has influenced very much. Not only is it the mother tongue of languages ​​like Spanish but we can find all kinds of roman tattoos, free now from stigma (which, by the way, in Latin means tattoo) that they suffered for so long, as fierce warriors or Latin inscriptions.

One of the oldest fashions in the world of tattooing, in fact, are the Roman numerals, probably due to its versatility and its ability to be tattooed in large or small pieces.

And you, do you have any Roman tattoos? Tell us!


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