Sisyphus Tattoo Meaning, Design & Ideas

Legends and myths have long since left an imprint on the minds of kids and adults everywhere. We love to hear the story about the gods and the powers they hold. The memories left by these stories are some of the better ones we know of and we want to talk about one specifically named Sisyphus.

People are big fans of the story of Sisyphus. So much so, that many choose to get a Sisyphus tattoo. You might ask yourself why someone would get the Sisyphus tattoo, but you might not have heard the story yet. After doing so, you might have a better idea as to why someone would get an image of this mythological being on their body.

In this post we will go over the story of Sisyphus and why so many people choose to get the Sisyphus tattoo. In doing this, we can talk about the meaning of this tattoo and look at some different variations of the Sisyphus tattoo. By the end of the post, we hope you have a better understanding of the story of Sisyphus and the Sisyphus tattoo.

The Mythology of Sisyphus

The story of Sisyphus is the story of a cunning trickster. The image you see of Sisyphus is one of him pushing a boulder up a hill. Many would wonder why this is. Well, the story is as follows.

Sisyphus was the King of Ephyra at the time this happened. Sisyphus was well known for being cunning and persuasive as well as a bit of a tyrant. He was known for ruling with an iron fist a regularly killing guests and travelers which violated the Greek concept of hospitality.

Sisyphus had also betrayed Zeus by giving up the location of Aegina to her father (Asopus) in return for a spring to flow on the Acropolis of Corinth.

For doing this, Zeus had Thanatos (Death) go to King Sisyphus and chain him in Tartarus (The dungeons of the underworld). Sisyphus was skeptical as to why Hermes, who had the job of taking souls into the Underworld, wasn’t the one who showed up. Sisyphus asked Thanatos if he could show him how the chains worked and as a last wish, Thanatos granted him this.

Sisyphus jumped on the opportunity and locked him up. This caused madness on Earth as nobody could die. The person most irritated with was Aries who wasn’t able to kill his foes on the battlefield. This caused Aries to free Thanatos and then give Sisyphus to him.

As punishment for the tricky king, Sisyphus was made to push a giant boulder up a hill. The nature of this punishment was fitting for a king that thought he could outwit Zues himself. Zeus had a clever plan to place an enchantment on this boulder so that no matter how many times Sisyphus pushed it to the top of the hill, the boulder would eventually evade Sisyphus and roll back down to the bottom of the hill where he would have to start his project all over again.

This is why activities that have been deemed a waste of time have also been described as being Sisyphean. Sisyphus was a well-known subject of writers of old and was portrayed on the walls of the Lesche at Delphi by Polygnotus.

Sisyphus Tattoo Meaning

According to many, Sisyphus represents the disk of the sun that rises every day in the east and then sets in the west at the end of the day. While others look at Sisyphus as a representation of the waves of the ocean rising and crashing. Others have likened the story of Sisyphus to a politician running for office and then being beaten over and over. The constant pursuit of power comes crashing down every time they get close to the top. It is a lesson in humility that we should all take note of.

Sisyphus Tattoo Variations

When it comes to the Sisyphus tattoo, we see the true creative side come out of people. When getting this tattoo, you wouldn’t think there are many ways to have it inked. However, people tend to get creative with the boulder and styles which makes for some fascinating versions of the Sisyphus tattoo.

One Must Imagine Sisyphus’s Happy Tattoo

Absurdist philosopher Albert Camus wrote an essay about Sisyphus. His angle is a bit different from most people. When we see Sisyphus rolling his boulder up the hill only to watch it come back down, it gives them the impression that this is the worst thing that could happen to a person. With no purpose in life other than to keep pushing that rock, someone might go mad. What the “one must imagine Sisyphus happy” tattoo represents is that because Sisyphus accepts and acknowledges his absurd fate, he is still revolting against the powers that be.

This tattoo is a rebellious one because of that and by getting it, you are saying that no matter what life throws, you will take it in stride and not let it control you. This is a great way of looking at life and this tattoo is representative of that.

Rock on Shoulder Sisyphus Tattoo

Some people choose to look at Sisyphus as a man with a rock on his shoulder. It doesn’t seem to look this way by the description in the story, but these tattoos are left up to interpretation. Many see Sisyphus boulder as his burden and many with the Sisyphus tattoo feel they are carrying some kind of burden as well. This tattoo represents the struggle.

Sisyphus Pushing Clock Tattoo

We see many with the Sisyphus tattoo having a big clock being pushed up the hill. This tattoo is clever because it represents time working against us. No matter how much we want it to be a good thing, time is fleeting, and it is catching up.

Whatever your angle is, the Sisyphus tattoo can be played with to create a message of your liking. The nice thing is, we feel that Sisyphus would have liked that anyway. Just make sure you take your time in finding an artist and it should work out to be a great tattoo for you.

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