Enemies of the Leading Greek city states met instant defeat fighting again the near untouchable Spartan army. Their mastery of battle skills, warfare tactics and combat strength were virtually unsurpassed until the Battle of Leuctra.
At one point in time, the Spartans fared as not only the strongest but also most efficient warriors.
Thanks to the battle of Thermopylae against the Persians, their military prowess gained considerable fame. Perhaps you’ve seen the movie 300, which depicts 300 Spartan hoplites holding back an entire army.
Though not the end victor against the massive opposing forces, they still left behind a considerable lengthy trail of their enemies blood.
During battle, they were armed with the dory, which is a large spear, a chest plate, bronze cuirasses, leg grave and a helmet. Not to mention, these soldiers also carried a small sword for close combat.
Now, if that sounds like a considerable amount of gear, just remember that the Spartans also fought with a hoplite shield called the Aspis.
In terms of symbolism, you could attribute it to the pinnacle of being one of the most lethal and feared warriors. Unrivaled bravely, incredible sheer strength and stamina, and a relentless drive for victory paint their picture quite well.
Regardless of your interpretation or meaning, just about every man can respect the authority and power they once commanded. To help you visualize their battles, I’ve put together a guide of the top 50 best Spartan tattoo designs for men. You’ll discover masculine ideas and witness incredible acts of war!
This is an interesting piece that uses black and gray ink to create different design elements that are iconic of the fierce Spartan people. Most prominent in this tattoo is the Corinthian helmet that became a staple of military service not only in Sparta but the entire Ancient Greek world. The next key Spartan element here is the shield, inextricably tied to this warrior caste thanks to the importance of shields in their fighting strategy, and emphasized by the Spartan saying created here with clean script. “H Tan H Epi Tas”, roughly translated means, “Come back with your shield, or on it.” The black and gray shading is clean and the use of highlights produces the effect of a highly polished helmet, reflecting the sun, improving the overall composition.
This is an excellent tattoo that uses black and gray as well as limited color to depict a Spartan soldier prepared for battle. The most distinguishing feature of this tattoo is the layers of texture the artist is able to produce through clever shading: the patina on the shield and helmet specifically are excellent. Clean highlights are expertly used to enhance this effect, while the negative space at the bottom of the piece creates an interesting composition that gives the feeling of an ancient fresco being unearthed. The subtle use of red in the plume of the helmet is interesting and adds a layer of depth that helps to complete this striking Spartan design.
This black and gray piece takes a simple concept and uses clean application to create an interesting tattoo. The shading in the helmet is consistent and balanced with highlights effectively producing the effect of light reflecting off this Spartan armor. The artist also uses precise black ink to create the effect of a pockmarked texture on the surface of the helmet. One of the more unique aspects of this tattoo is the use of stylized filigree, created using negative space that flows over the helmet, casting accurate and realistic shadows on the surface of the metal. This not only demonstrates the skill of the artist but also a carefully planned composition.
This is a clean black and gray piece that takes essential elements of Spartan military equipment along with the classic Jolly Roger design to create a great tattoo. The artist’s clean shading is on display here, both in the highlights of the rounded shape of the helmet but also in the edges of the xiphos, or short swords carried by Spartans into battle. The whip shading in the plume of the helmet is also well-applied, perfectly creating the effect of hair blowing in the wind. Perfect placement, centered between the shoulder blades, completes this unique tribute to these warriors from the ancient world.
This shoulder and chest piece uses expert shading to recreate scenes from Frank Miller’s film interpretation of the Battle of Thermopylae, 300. The film is the perfect inspiration for tattoos thanks to its stylized use of contrast and dramatic flair. On the chest is Leonidas, Spartan King, recreated with black and gray shading, and the raised spears central to Spartan combat fading into the distance. The image on the shoulder is a recreation of a scene in the film where the Spartans push a Persian contingent back into the sea. In the film, extreme backlighting is used to increase contrast and produce this effect, and here it is perfectly recreated with the use of fully saturated black ink to create the silhouettes of soldiers plunging to their deaths.
Spartan Tattoo FAQ’s
What does a Spartan tattoo mean?
The Spartans were a warrior society in Greece who reached the height of their power around the fifth century B.C. Their culture was typified by honor, loyalty to the state above all else and a skilled and powerful military. All of this was indoctrinated into the youth through the mandatory education process that started at age 7, which focused on military training and produced the professional soldiers that made up the male Spartan population. For true Spartans, the only profession available was that of a soldier, creating this fierce community.
In modern times Sparta has seen a resurgence in popularity thanks to several movies detailing the exploits of this warrior nation, with many of the tenants of restraint, endurance and physical prowess gaining popularity in turn. These days, Spartan tattoos can commemorate military service and the life of a professional soldier, or simply symbolize the wearer’s appreciation of the values this society held so high. Whatever the meaning behind these tattoos, this ancient culture and their unique principles make for excellent subject matter for this most permanent of ornamentations.