Roman numerals were developed in ancient Rome over centuries using the letters of the Latin alphabet, I, V, X, L, C, D, and M. This numerical system was used exclusively in Western Europe until the adaptation and development of the current Hindu-Arabic originated system.
So why are Roman numeral tattoos so popular? Well, for a lot of reasons. For one, in most cases they look a lot better than numbers. They also have a bit more of a mysterious look to them than traditional numbers, which can add a bit more meaning to a tattoo. Someone might want to get a Roman numeral tattoo because it’s very personal to them and they don’t want the meaning to be obvious to others.
In this post we will talk about the history behind the roman numeral and what it means to those that get roman numeral tattoos. It could mean something different to everyone and there are all sorts of variations. We will review some of the different ways we’ve seen the roman numeral tattoo inked and talk about the meaning involved. By the end of this post we hope you feel more comfortable about getting your own roman numeral tattoo.
About Roman Numerals
The Roman system relies on the adding of letters, each assigned a value, in order to create larger numerals. In reality, you can use Roman numerals to represent any type of number, such as a date or a time that is important to you. Some people will even use Roman numerals to represent letters and will “spell” out a quote or a person’s name with the symbols.
Interestingly, because of the development of Roman numerals out of ancient necessities such as trade and mercantilism, there is no symbol for ‘0’. When numbers were used, it was to assign value to something and so zero was not necessary. Of course, factors of 10 are represented in Roman numerals, so absolutely any other number can be used when getting a Roman numeral tattoo.
Roman numerals are used now in situations where respect or dignity is due. They signify importance, lending what they stand for to represent a dignified quality of the well-established ancient culture. While many people will add more modern meanings to their Roman numeral tattoos, it is not uncommon for someone to get one to hold more classic meanings. For example, you could get a Roman numeral tattoo to symbolize an important date in the past, such as a grandparent’s birthdate.
Often, these numerals are used to denote a longstanding tradition, such as the lineage of monarchies (Henry VII, VIII, etc.) or sports traditions like the Super Bowl. A huge football fan could get the Super Bowl number from when their favorite team won the big game. In those cases, the owner will usually add a helmet or some other image to make the meaning a bit more obvious.
The assignment of Roman numerals to visually represent a date of personal significance lends that event longevity and a sense of establishment. This is often used to represent a year of birth, either one’s own or the birth of year of a loved one. The date could also hold a completely different meaning, such as the day that someone entered prison. People can use these dates to remind them of a good time or a bad time, but it is always a date that they don’t want to forget.
Roman numerals can convey more than a date. The Zodiac symbol of Gemini is represented by the Roman numeral II, which indicates the dual nature of the astral sign. In these situations, the Roman numeral tattoo can hold multiple meanings to the owner. Whatever the Roman numeral represents adds to the meaning of the tattoo, which could look like a basic Roman numeral symbol to people who don’t know their alternative meanings.
The numerical system is also used for assigning names to plural moons and other astronomical bodies, as well as other scientific designation. Someone who is into astrology might want to get a Roman numeral tattoo to represent their favorite moons. Obviously, this is not the type of meaning that other people will get right away, making the tattoo that much more personal.
Roman numerals give a sense of nobility, honor and a demand for respect. These are some of the main reasons why so many people are attracted to Roman numeral tattoos these days. They know that regardless of the meaning that they give to their tattoos, they will come across as important to outside observers.
Regardless of how they are used, Roman numerals convey significance and the authenticity of tradition. The numbers portray a date of establishment, a foundation on which a legacy is meant to be built. This makes these simple symbols hold a lot more meaning than many other tattoo designs. They can hold multiple meanings, but in many cases, they have one very special meaning to the owners.
As you can see, Roman numeral tattoos are extremely meaningful even if they don’t always have obvious or deep meanings. They are also the type of tattoos that can come in any shape and size, making them convenient design choices. Many people decide to get the Roman numerals by themselves, but this is also a great tattoo to get with another image to add a bit more meaning.
Roman Numeral Tattoo Placement
The roman numeral tattoo is the sort of ink that can be placed almost anywhere. It can be small enough to go on a finger or behind your ear. It can also be large enough to cover your entire arm. Because most of these tattoos will be very linear, they fit in most places and can be made to fill in other spots.
Roman Numeral Tattoo Variations
When getting your roman numeral tattoo, you have to decide on what it will represent. Most things you will see have to do with a number as the roman numerals represent numbers. There are different ways you can get this tattoo and it can be associated with different images to change up the meaning.
Roman Numeral Birthdate Tattoo
The roman numeral tattoo can be used to identify a birthdate and many people choose to do it this way. It might be your own birthday but most of the time it will be a loved one’s birthdate that you are marking down. We see a lot of children’s’ birthdates being tattooed in roman numerals
Roman Numeral Wedding Date Tattoo
The wedding date tattoo using roman numerals is also another way of representing a special day in your life with roman numerals. This is just another unique way to have a date put on your body. In addition to being a special date, this tattoo looks cool too. You can be that people will be asking you what it means.
Clock Tattoo with Roman Numerals
Some of the most famous clocks in the world are chalk full of roman numerals. Big Ben, which is in the Palace of Westminster Clock tower, uses roman numerals as numerical indicators. This is probably the most famous clock in the world and it is where the Houses of Parliament for the United Kingdom are located. Many older looking, grandfather(ish) clocks use roman numerals. It is a symbol of articulation.
Roman Numeral Warrior Tattoo
Many times, you will see a Roman warrior tattoo with the roman numerals somewhere in the picture. These numbers might be a historical date. They could when an important battle happened, or it could even be a number of fallen soldiers or kills. You can get creative with this tattoo but when we see it linked to roman soldiers, we think the number must be historical in one sense or another.
As you can see, there are many reasons to get your own roman numeral tattoo. The number being tattooed is significant to you in some way so what better way to show it than a tattoo. However, make sure you this is date you will always want to remember because if you happen to break up with someone and you had their birthday inked on your body, it won’t be a fun process removing it.
When you go looking for an artist to do your roman numeral tattoo, make sure you are comfortable with the artist. They should ask you to come in and have a consultation so you can sit down and talk about what you are looking for and to see if they can add anything creatively. Make sure they have some work in their portfolio regarding roman numerals. They need to be able to make straight and bold lines for this to come out looking right. If you are comfortable with all that, go for it.
If you are having trouble finding an artist you are comfortable with, please reach out to us. We have a great deal of experience in matching customers to tattoo artists. We want to make sure we match you with someone that will make your vision come true.