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Tattoos in Greece and Rome - Term Paper Example

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Tattoos in Greece and Rome
Along with the Egyptians’ expansion of their empire occurred a spread of the art of tattooing. Tattoos were used by the ancient Briton tribes in their ceremonies while tattoos were used in family crests by the Danes, Saxons and the Norse. …
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Tattoos in Greece and Rome
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Download file to see previous pages Pictures of people who have their noses marked on both sides with the four tattooed historical lines were found on the Aveyron’s and Tarn’s prehistoric stones in France. “Drawings and figurines discovered in a Thracian burial mound near Philippopolis may depict tattooed people, but considering the complexity of the decorations it is more likely that these represent body painting or finely worked figurines” (Tattoo Temple, n.d.). People in Greece and Rome added their own cultural touches as they inherited the art of tattooing, thus taking it to the next level. Archeologists have readily found tattooed mummies from various parts of the world which suggests how common a practice it has been for a long time in history. Tattoos today are an insignia of fashion and style. The contemporary society has endorsed tattoos as a means of styling. The trend of under-skin inking has been around for thousands of years. This paper discusses the history of tattoos in ancient Greece and Rome.
The history of tattooing in Europe commences with the ancient historians of Greek and Roman origin. The Greeks inherited the art of tattooing from the Persians, while the Romans gained it from the Greeks. In the early Greek time followed by the early Roman time, tattooing was a practice linked with the barbarians. According to Herodotus, tattoos were voluntarily associated by the Greeks with the barbarians, including the Thracian women known as the Maenads who assassinated Orpheus because of his homosexual concerns with their husbands. “Herodotus was the first to use the root “stig” as in the pejorative “stigma” to refer to tattoos as a mark (estichthai) or a “pricking”” (Random History, 2008). In the ancient times, tattooing was used as a tool to differentiate between the criminals and/or the slaves and the rest of the people of the society. Prisoners and slaves were tattooed the name of Xerxes. Occasionally, tattoos were also used to send secret messages across the lines of enemies. Criminals and slaves were tattooed so that they would have an irremovable mark on their skin to help others identify them as such. This was done intentionally to discourage the criminals and slaves from running away as attempts to escape were common among the two. Later, the Romans used tattoos to pick out deserters as the Roman army was chiefly composed of the mercenaries. The use of tattoos by the early Greek and Romans suggests that their chief use was punishment as has been mentioned by various authors of the Greek and the Roman origin. Tattoos have been discussed in a punitive sense by such Greek authors as Aristophanes, Xenophon, Herodus, Aeschines and Aelius Aristides (Jones, 2000). Plato was of the opinion that a temple robber should be tattooed on the forehead and the hands to have a trace of the offense while Bion of Borysthenes said that his father’s face was more of a document because of intense tattooing because of his status of a slave. The process of tattooing has been recorded by the ancient Roman authors. Aetius is one such Roman physician who described the process of applying and removing a tattoo along with the formula for making the tattoo ink in his famous book; Medicae artis principles. At one point, Plato expressed the opinion that tattoos should be placed on people found guilty of sacrilege and thus, they should be expelled from the Republic. Likewise, “Suetone, a early writer reports that the degenerate and sadistic Roman Emperor, Caligula, amused himself by capriciously ordering ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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