50+ Amazing Medusa Tattoo Ideas With Meanings

Medusa is a controversial character from the Greek mythology, but one that moves many. A medusa tattoo can be a protection from the evil, or a symbol of the victims.

Some theories like to interpret Medusa as a symbol of female powerlessness, and the wrong doing done against her with the excuse of evil and strength.

However, others see her as a protective symbol and ability to destroy one’s enemies given her ability to petrify and thus destroy those who dare to go against her.

A medusa tattoo design usually consists of her head of snakes, and her stare.

Sometimes a beauty, sometimes a monster, she is a powerful yet a tragic figure.

Medusa terrifies and awes at the same time.

Is a Medusa tattoo a symbol of victims and injustice? Or a powerful symbol of protection against enemies?

Let’s dive into the myth, interpretations and the amazing Medusa tattoo ideas we have for you.

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Every Tattoo Has a Meaning – The Greek Myth of Medusa

Medusa was one of the three Gorgons, daughters of Phorcys and Ceto, sisters of the Graeae, Echidna, and Ladon – all dreadful and fearsome beasts.

However, unlike her sisters, she was a beautiful mortal. So beautiful that the great Poseidon got infatuated with her and tried to seduce her.

In the later version of the myth done by Ovid, Medusa refused his intentions, but he still pressured her and raped her in Athena’s temple.

For this, Medusa had to endure the misfortune of being turned into the most hideous of her sisters.

She suffered the wrath of Athena, who transformed her into a vicious monster with snakes for hair and a stare that could turn people to stone.

Some poets claimed that she had a great boar-like tusk and tongue lolling between her fanged teeth.

Strangely enough, Medusa’s story doesn’t end with her death.

Later, Perseus slayed her in the original Greek myth was because a king wanted to force Danae (Perseus’ mother) into marrying him.

He wanted Perseus out of the way, so he told him that he’d leave Danae alone if Perseus slayed Medusa and brought him her head.

Perseus did everything he did to protect his mother.

Medusa is an instantly recognizable figure from ancient Greek art.

In some interpretations, her face is shown as fierce and grotesque, in others it can be feminine and composed.

The Met Museum further details, the most common interpretation of Medusa suggests she is an apotropaic symbol used to protect from and ward off the negative, much like the modern evil eye.

She represents a dangerous threat meant to deter other dangerous threats, an image of evil to repel evil.

If we take a close look at her role in Greek mythology and art, we will discover that she is a nuanced and complex character with multiple iterations and implications.

Regardless of the change of appearance throughout centuries, she is always recognizable due to her striking frontality.

It is rare in Greek art for a figure to face directly out, but in almost all representations of Medusa, despite style and medium, she stares ahead and uncompromisingly confronts the viewer.

Medusa is also portrayed on the famous Versace logo, surrounded by the meander pattern.

Medusa – The Symbol of the Feminine Energy

The beauty of Medusa, as great as it was, was used in the myth as her later demise.

As per the Ovid’s version in the Roman mythology, disputed by many Greek mythology lovers, she was the love interest of Poseidon, but since she didn’t reciprocate his love, she got raped by him in Athena’s temple.

The goddess was awakened with anger by what had happened inside her hallowed halls.

Why Ovid rewrote it that Athena chose to punish the victim is unclear, but there is an interpretation beside the disgrace to the temple that it could be that Athena was jealous of Medusa’s beauty.

Whatever the exact reason, Athena turned her wrath towards Medusa and punished her by turning her into a hideous monster, with snakes growing out of her head, and a deadly stare that would immediately turn anyone to stone if they looked into her eyes.

With times, the appearance of Medusa started changing, as did the interpretation of the story.

In the Classical period, her features started to become increasingly feminized, smoother  shapelier.

All this brought a change to how artists portrayed her and featured her it in their works, making the images of Medusa more human.

Nowadays, there are even more interpretations that draw the connection between Medusa and the still problematic stance to the issues women face even in today’s age.

As pointed out by Symbolsage.com, there are several perspectives of the story:

  • Silencing Powerful Women – The beheading of Medusa can be seen as symbolic of silencing powerful women who voice their sentiments.In Western culture, strong women have historically been imagined as threats requiring male conquest and control. Medusa is the perfect symbol of this.
  • Rape Culture – Medusa has been stigmatized and has unjustifiably been blamed for the consequences of male lust.She was unfairly blamed for “provoking” a god with her beauty. Instead of punishing her abuser, Athena, supposedly the goddess of wisdom, punished her by turning her into a hideous monster.

    It can be said that Medusa is an ancient representation of sexual stigma that still happens today. It’s still a matter of contention that rape victims are often blamed for the rape and, in some cultures, are vilified, ostracized and labelled ‘damaged goods’ by society.

  • Femme Fatale – Medusa is the archetypal femme fatale. Medusa symbolizes death, violence, and erotic desire.Once an enthralling beauty she was turned into a monstrosity after she was raped by a god. Such is her beauty that even powerful men couldn’t resist her charms.

    She can be equally enchanting and dangerous, and in some cases, she can be fatal. She remains one of the most identifiable femme fatales even today.

Modern powerful women have proudly worn a head full of snakes to depict power, sexuality, and the acknowledgment of their emerging role in society and politics.

Some of the most famous female names have been associated with the image of Medusa, including Rihanna, Oprah Winfrey and Condoleezza Rice.

Best Medusa Tattoo Placements

As Perseus holds Medusa high up in his hands to dissuade any enemies, so is the medusa hand tattoo used to protect against the evil.

For those looking for a medium to large tattoo, they go for a Medusa thigh tattoo, as it gives a good sized canvas to get a detailed intricate tattoo design.

Additionally, given Medusa’s wild snake locked hair, this symbol on it’s own can be enough for a whole Medusa sleeve tattoo, or at least just a half sleeve.

You’ll see below even Medusa full back tattoos, as the biggest pieces and most impressive ones.

If in circular shape, there is also a great placement for a Medusa chest tattoo, or have her hair cover the entire chest with the face well stacked in the middle.

Medusa Tattoo Ideas

To help you with your research for your next tattoo design, we went on a hunt through Instagram to find the best medusa tattoo ideas.

Take a look below to check them out all:

Are you looking for a custom medusa tattoo design? We got you.

Our expert tattoo artists will provide a quick initial draft to get you going.
Happy inking ❤

Milena Petrovic

Milena Petrovic

Co-founder of Tattoo Stylist

About the author

Milena has decided to start an organization that will create a safe environment for everybody to get their first, second or third tattoo and to encourage young people to transform their ideas into tattoos safely, with talent and vision.

You can find her writing about tattoos on Quora or updating our Pinterest profile with awesome tattoo ideas!