Stoic Tattoos: Meaning & Examples

Do you have any tattoos?

If so, what do they mean to you? For a lot of people, tattoos are a way to express themselves — to show the world who they are and what they believe in.

And for others, tattoos can be a symbol of strength and resilience.

If that’s the case for you, then you may be interested in Stoic tattoos.

These meaningful designs represent some of the core principles of Stoicism, making them perfect for anyone who wants to keep those ideas close to their heart.

Read on to learn more about Stoic tattoos and their meanings!

Stoicism Explained

Stoicism is a school of thought that was founded in Athens by Zeno of Citium in the early 3rd century BC.

The Stoics believed that the world was governed by reason and that the individual soul was a spark of the divine. They believed in self-control, living in harmony with others, and making rational decisions.

The Stoics also believed in using logic and reason to deal with difficult situations and accepting what is unfavourable.

While the Stoics were influenced by the Cynics, they differed in their belief that evil did not come from within the individual, but from the external world.

The Stoics also believed in using nature as a guide for living. They believed that one should live in accordance with nature, which includes living a life of virtue. The Stoics believed that virtue is the only good and that vice is the only bad.

They also believed that all people are equal and that wisdom is the highest good.

The Stoics had a significant impact on Roman thought and culture. Stoicism was adopted by some of the most influential Romans, such as Cicero, Seneca, and Marcus Aurelius.

The Stoic school of thought declined after the death of Marcus Aurelius in 180 AD, but its influence can still be seen and felt around the world.

Today, Stoicism is seeing a renaissance of sorts as its ideas and influence are spread around the world with help from the internet.

These days, many individuals interested in Stoicism have come across the school of thought via YouTube, podcasts, or chatrooms.

Marcus Aurelius

The Meaning Behind Stoic Tattoos

A stoic tattoo can really be any design which represents the stoic school of thought in some way.

Depending on the design, a stoic tattoo may simply signify that its wearer lives his or her life in a stoic manner or it may emphasize one particular area or virtue of the stoic philosophy.

Either way, here are some of the cornerstone virtues of Stoicism, which can be represented together or seperatley through your tattoo.


One of the key virtues of Stoicism is moderation.

This can be interpreted in many ways but it all really comes down to self-control.

The Stoics were a school of thought that believed in using reason and self-control to live a virtuous life.

One of the main tenets of Stoicism is that we should be in control of our emotions and reactions, no matter what the situation.

This can be difficult to do, but the Stoics believed that it was essential in order to lead a successful life.

For example, if something bad happens, we should not let our emotions get the better of us.

Instead, we should use our rational mind to assess the situation and figure out the best way to proceed.

This approach can help us to avoid making rash decisions or behaving in ways that we might later regret.

By learning to control and moderate our emotions, we can become more reasoned and level-headed people, better equipped to deal with whatever life throws our way.


The Stoics believed that courage was the most important virtue because it was the quality that allowed humans to confront fear and overcome it.

Courage was not about being fearless, but about recognizing fear and then acting in spite of it. This required a clear understanding of what was within one’s control and what was not.

The Stoics believed that by controlling their reactions to the bad things that happened to them, they could maintain their inner peace and equanimity.

This did not mean that they were indifferent to the suffering of others; rather, they believed that they should actively work to make the world a better place.

But they also believed that one could not control the world, only oneself.

And so the courageous Stoic worked diligently on improving oneself and one’s own reactions to the world, even in the face of great difficulties.


One of the core tenants of Stoicism is the belief in justice.

This idea of justice consists of two main qualities: kindness and equality.

In Stoicism, all people, regardless of their station in life, are seen as equal before the eyes of the gods.

This belief is based on the principle that each person has a spark of divinity within them and that, as such, everyone deserves to be treated with respect.

This belief in equality extends to all aspects of life, from social interactions to the legal system. In Stoicism, there is no such thing as a “noble birth” or a “divine right” to rule.

Instead, everyone is seen as having an equal opportunity to achieve virtue and live a good life.

As a result, Stoicism promotes a society that is based on merit, not on birthright or privilege.


The Stoics believed that wisdom, the highest virtue, arose from using reason to control one’s emotions and desires.

The goal was to become indifferent to externals, such as pleasure and pain so that one could be free from the Ups and downs of life and maintain inner tranquillity.

While this might sound like a recipe for a joyless life, the Stoics actually believed in living in harmony with others and taking an active role in the world.

They believed that wisdom was not simply an intellectual exercise, but something that had to be put into practice in everyday life.

As the Stoic philosopher Lucius Annaeus Seneca once said, “Wisdom is not a mere appetition of knowledge; it is the right application of knowledge.”

In other words, wisdom is not just about knowing what is right, but also about doing what is right.

Stoicism is all about balance.

Stoic Tattoo Ideas

If you feel aligned with the stoic philosophy and want to show off your belief through a tattoo, then you might be wondering what your options are.

Well, here are some great examples of stoic ink to get your creative juices flowing.

Check them out!

Marcus Aurelius Tattoo

Marcus Aurelius is an extremely important figure in stoicism.

So, if you want a tattoo that screams “hey! I’m a stoic,” a tattoo with his face on it might be your strongest choice.

Four Virtues Tattoo

The four virtues of Stoicism are really the basis of philosophy.

So, if you want a daily reminder to live by these virtues, then this tattoo might be for you.

In this tattoo, the book represents the virtue of wisdom, the glass represents the virtue of moderation, the scale represents the virtue of justice, and the lion represents the virtue of courage.

Marcus Aurelius Momento Mori Tattoo

This design pairs a depiction of Marcus Aurelius with the famous phrase “Momento Mori” which is Latin for “remember that you [have to] die.”

This design is a very strong reminder that life is fleeting and we all must act accordingly.

Marcus Aurelius Quote Tattoo

This is a nice design that offers more than just a depiction of the famous figure.

By adding a quote into the design, more depth and meaning is injected into the piece.

Brain and Heart Scale Tattoo

This tattoo really represents what is at the core of Stoicism — the balance between heart and mind.

This design is a very strong reminder to live life in a balanced way.

Colourful Marcus Aurelius Tattoo

Just because you are a stoic, it doesn’t mean you can’t have a little colour in your life (even if the colour’s source seems to be a teardrop falling from Marcus Aurelius’ eye).

This tattoo is a really cool example of a creative stoic tattoo.

Simple Momento Mori Tattoo

“Momento Mori” translates from Latin for “remember that you [have to] die.”

This simple design in such a prominent spot is sure to remind you of your mortality.

Should You Get A Stoic Tattoo?

So, you’re interested in getting a Stoic tattoo, but just can’t seem to pull the trigger?

Well, perhaps you need some convincing.

Stoicism makes a great theme for a tattoo because it has so much inherent meaning behind it.

Most people struggle to find meaning in their tattoos. But with a stoic tattoo, the meaning is clear and simple.

Furthermore, if you truly believe in living a stoic life, then having a stoic tattoo will be a constant reminder to live life in a stoic manner.

The downside to getting a stoic tattoo is that you may struggle to find a design that accurately sums up the philosophy.

Getting a tattoo of Marcus Aurelius might be an obvious sign to the world that you are a Stoic.

However, if you like your ink to be a little less literal, then you may need to get creative.

Don’t let that stop you though! There are plenty of great reasons to get a stoic tattoo and comparatively few reasons not to.

Final Thoughts

Stoic tattoos are a great way to show your admiration for the philosophy while also expressing yourself through art.

If you’re interested in getting a stoic tattoo, be sure to do your research and find an artist who can help you create a design that is both meaningful and unique to you.