Athena Tattoo Meaning, Designs & Ideas

Tattoos of the legendary Greek goddess Athena have different meanings based on the person who chose them. For many people, Athena represents knowledge, wisdom, power, and strength. To others, she symbolizes war or defense. Athena can also be connected to adoptive parenting.

In this comprehensive article, we will look at the various meanings of Athena tattoos.

Who Was Athena?

Athena is known as the goddess of wisdom and war in ancient Greece. According to some legends, she was born from her father Zeus’s head; Zeus had swallowed his pregnant wife Metis because he feared their offspring would be more powerful than him. 

Athena is sometimes called Athena Pallas because when she was participating in a war exercise, she accidentally killed her friend Pallas. 

Athena was also the patroness of the city of Athens. She competed with the god of the sea, Poseidon, to determine who should be the patron of the city. Athena planted an olive tree that would provide oil, fruit, and wood to the residents and the king decided she should win. Many believe that she was named after the city, while others think the city was named after Athena.

Athena Tattoos

Many tattoos of Athena feature just her head but a few show her full body. There is a mix of color tattoos and art that is done in black and gray ink. Men and women are both likely to get Athena tattoos, with common locations being the arm or thigh.

Most tattoos of Athena show her wearing armor: a helmet, as well as carrying a sword and shield for full-body tattoos. Some of these images also display an owl, which represents her wisdom, or an olive branch which relates to the story of how she became patroness of Athens.

Ancient Greece

Athena is a famous figure from ancient Greek history. Someone who takes a particular interest in ancient Greece might choose this tattoo to show that they have an enthusiasm or passion for history. Maybe they are a scholar who has chosen to devote their energy to building knowledge about Athena and the history of her life. 

People who choose to get a tattoo of Athena because of her historical significance are more likely to opt for a realistic illustration of her. While the vast majority of Athena tattoos do have a similar appearance, some take more liberty with her appearance and dress than others.


One of the things that Athena was known for was her wisdom. She learned from her previous experiences and used her understanding to make good choices for her city. Athena was very knowledgeable and used excellent judgment when making decisions.

Many people who get a tattoo of Athena do so because she was the goddess of wisdom. She represents an intelligent female figure who is inspirational to men and women alike. A person might choose this tattoo because they identify with Athena and see her as a kindred spirit. Someone may also get her image tattooed because they want to make wiser choices in their own life.

Battle and War

Since Athena is also the goddess of war, she is frequently associated with fighting and battles. Athena is one of the better-known female figures who are recognized for their abilities in warfare.

Some people who opt to get a tattoo of Athena do so because they like the balance of toughness and skill that she possesses. Athena mainly fought with a sword and shield, so people who choose a tattoo to represent her fighting abilities will often have these items included in the image.

For many people, the image of the Athena warrior represents mental strength as well. This tattoo can be an encouragement for people who are facing emotional or psychological challenges. Athena symbolizes an ability to handle whatever life throws your way.

Beauty and Grace

Athena is typically illustrated as a beautiful and graceful woman. At the same time, these images do not show her smiling but instead with a stern face. She is usually shown wearing a type of tunic that is called a chiton. 

Someone may get a tattoo of Athena simply because they appreciate her beauty and majesty. Her image combines physical beauty with strength which makes it that much more appealing. Athena shows that women can be both tough and beautiful; it isn’t necessary to choose between these qualities.

Power and Authority

Since Athena was the patron of Athens, she had the responsibility of guarding, protecting, and supporting the city. This gave her a certain authority over the residents of Athens. Her power also stems from her being the goddess of war. Athena also had the special power of being able to turn her enemies to stone with the use of her shield.

A person may choose to get an Athena tattoo because they are trying to manifest more power in their own life. Perhaps they are hoping to advance their career or obtain a leadership position of some sort. The image of Athena can also be an inspirational tattoo for those who need a powerful female figure to look up to.

Adoption or Fostering

One thing about Athena that is not as well known as her powers as a goddess is that she was a mother. She did not give birth to a child but she raised the boy Erichthonius, like a foster or adoptive mother.

Legend has it that Hephaestus attempted to rape Athena but she was successful in fighting him off. After his semen fell on the ground, Erichthonius was born out of the earth. Athena then cared for this infant despite not being his birth mother.

For women who have fostered or adopted children, they may see that they have something in common with Athena. They may opt to get an Athena tattoo to represent their commitment to fostering or adoption in their own life. Alternatively, a person might choose this tattoo if they themselves were adopted as a child as a way of showing respect to their adoptive parents.

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