The Satyr is a creature of Greek myth that just about all of us have seen depicted at one time or another. Half man and half horse (or goat, in later history), it is certainly a choice that says a lot about its owner and today we’ll tell you a little more about Satyr tattoos and the history behind them.
This is a symbol that can express the playfulness of the soul or simply the owner’s love of excess, but a lot is going to depend on the context. Read on and we’ll tell you why in this quick exploration of the lore of the Satyr tattoo!
What is the History of Satyr Tattoos?
The legend of Satyrs is an old one, going back to the times of the ancient Greeks. Originally depicted as a race of men with a horse’s legs, its tail, and often depicted in a state of arousal, female Satyrs would eventually be depicted as well, but at a much later time – in post-Roman Europe!
Satyrs wouldn’t become the ‘horned goat men’ that most of us are familiar with until the Hellenistic period when they became associated with the cult of Dionysus, though they’ve always been famous for their reputations for play and debauchery.
Tracing back the earliest tattoos of them is ultimately conjecture, but while the Greeks or Romans may have worn Satyr tattoos on occasion, it was definitely not commonplace in Greco-Roman culture – who tended to view tattooing the body as something only for foreigners, criminals, or misfits.
That said, Egypt and Syria had no such compunctions about tattoos and through contact with their neighbors, Satyr tattoos could conceivably have started appearing as early as 520 to 500 B.C. — as we have depictions of them that have survived on pottery pieces to this day!
What Do Satyr Tattoos Symbolize?
Satyr tattoos symbolize a lust for life, especially in excess! Always depicted drinking wine or engaging in sexual activity, one could argue that a Satyr was essentially ‘sex, drugs, and rock and roll’ boiled down into a creature of myth whose design instantly shows us it’s nature.
Depending on how it is depicted, a Satyr can symbolize anything from a ‘playful soul’ to a downright ‘hedonistic’ one, and while traditionally you’d see much more of the latter than the former, as with any tattoo symbolism the meaning will not be limited to the Satyr themselves, but rather their image and what is around them.
Ultimately, it’s probably best to think of them as male youth, lust for life, and excess indulgence incarnate, and then you have the most accurate idea of the Satyr’s traditional symbolism.
What Do Satyr Tattoos Mean?
When chosen as skin art, a Satyr tattoo essentially tells all who look upon it that the owner is a soul who loves to enjoy themselves – perhaps even more than anything else!
These are people who absolutely love life in the form of the tastiest foods, the strongest wines, and the wildest, most intimate encounters (and not necessarily all of these things in THAT order, if you get our drift!).
The Satyr tattoo is the mark of a wild soul who intends to enjoy every minute of the day, from the moment that they wake up in the morning until that time in the evening when their excess forces them into slumber.
The Satyr is basically the soul who parties the hardest and probably has much more fun doing it then the rest of us with our restrictive ‘boundaries’ – although in the right context, it can also simply be seen as one who is a wild force of nature.
Where Do Satyr Tattoos Usually Go?
Satyr tattoos are either boldly displayed or hidden as a private glimpse into their owner’s psyche which is reserved for those who get close enough to them to get to see the tattoo. When depicted somewhere highly visual, such as the shoulder or forearm, they indicate one who is open about their enjoyment of life’s little indulgences.
Placed at the hip, a Satyr tattoo indicates an overactive libido or simply an aggressive sexual nature, while placement in a back piece might indicate the same, but with more ties to hidden eroticism in the bargain as well.
Placed on the chest, over the heart, it is almost an affirmation or simple confession to the world that the owner of the tattoo is a wild soul who cannot get enough of the pleasures of life.
Characteristics and Styles of Satyr Tattoos
Satyrs come in different styles, of course, ranging from the frighteningly stark black and white photorealistic renditions, to playful and ‘cartoony’ New School varieties.
Satyr tattoos even work well with minimalism, as the horns of the goat with their backwards curvature make it easier to tell that they are not ‘devils’, being playful rather than evil.
As with any tattoo, you can also take the symbolism from one culture and give it a depiction in another to great effect, for instance a Greek Satyr done in a Japanese style might take the basic meaning, but frame it as if to say ‘this soul is playful beyond all others, but rigorously self-disciplined’.
The Satyr tattoo incorporates Greek mythology, so it’s something quite recognizable worldwide to many individuals, but you might want to take care to include all of the basic elements of drinking and debauchery, or it might end up just looking like a simple devil! Thus, the importance of taking your time to design the perfect tattoo!
The most famous of Satyrs is the Greek demigod Pan, but there are certainly numerous depictions that can give you a little inspiration in creating a Satyr tattoo that is uniquely you.
If you are the type of soul that loves experience and ‘letting go’ as a form of enjoying life and self-discovery, the Satyr might be an excellent fit for your skin art – it’s got a rich history, instant recognition, and it’s a hard symbol to misinterpret. Just about perfect for the right kind of person!