50 Best Molon Labe Tattoo Designs, Come and Take Them!

Molon Labe Tattoo
Molon Labe tattoo: a symbol of courage, defiance, or something more? Read to find out the history of this famous Greek catchphrase!

If you happen to like tattoos with Greek vibes, epic quotes, Spartans, or just Latin, this tattoo with a rich history will not disappoint you.

In this article, we will introduce you to the history of the Molon Labe tattoo, both ancient and modern symbolism. We will also offer you 50 epic tattoo ideas in different styles.

Before we begin, take a moment to explore the work of these talented artists who excel in the art of lettering and realistic tattoos:

The History of Molon Labe

hen Xerxes wrote to him: “You have the possibility not to mess with the gods, to take my side and become a monarch in Greece,” he replied with a letter: “If you knew what is good in life, you would, you abstained from desiring foreign things. For me, it is better to die for Greece than to be a monarch among my people.”When Xerxes again wrote to him: “Send your weapons,” he replied in writing: “Come and get them.”

The story begins with Plutarch and his ”Apophthegmata Laconica” as he recorded this narrative in his works:

When Xerxes wrote to him: “You have the possibility not to mess with the gods, to take my side and become a monarch in Greece,” he replied with a letter: “If you knew what is good in life, you would, you abstained from desiring foreign things. For me, it is better to die for Greece than to be a monarch among my people.”When Xerxes again wrote to him: “Send your weapons,” he replied in writing: “Come and get them.”

The origin of the catchphrase “Molon Labe” takes place in Ancient Greece during the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC, one of the Greco-Persian Wars. Xerxes Ⅰ, the Persian king, ultimately prevailed over Leonidas Ⅰ and the Spartans.

When Xerxes sent emissaries to deliver his demand for the Spartans to surrender their weapons, Leonidas responded with the resolute phrase, “ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ!” — an unwavering refusal to yield. Alas, the Spartans lost, as Xerex took such notice close to heart. So he came and took their weapons. 

Despite a valiant effort, the overwhelming size of the Persian army eventually resulted in the defeat of the Greek forces at Thermopylae. However, this battle became a symbol of Greek resistance.

What’s The Molon Labe Tattoo Meaning?

What’s The Molon Labe Tattoo Meaning?

The literal translation of the phrase “Μολών λαβέ” from the Greek language is “Come! Take!” but of course, Leonidas didn’t mean it literally. Instead, he sent him away concisely, in a sarcastic manner. The phrase can be interpreted as a bold declaration that the Greeks would not relinquish their arms and were prepared to face the consequences of resisting.

In other words, Leonidas literally said, “Yeah, right, I dare you!” 

Centuries pass, but people do not change. It’s easier to study history when you perceive everything from a slightly different angle, right? For example, the ancient Greeks supposedly did not have the concept of thought, so the Greek gods “played this role” for them, whispering their will.

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With that kind of food for thought, which Greek deity in your opinion calls to you more often? If you like this concept, we advise you to think about a tattoo with a Greek god.

The pronunciation of “Molon Labe” is fairly straightforward — [maw-lawn lah-veh]. 

To make it simpler, think of the ‘maw’ sound like the ‘saw’ in “Saw a movie,” and ‘lawn’ rhyming with the ‘lawn’ you might have in your backyard. Moving on to the other part of the phrase, the ‘lah’ part is also similar to the ‘la’ in “lawn,” and ‘veh’ is pronounced like in “vehicle.”

How Modern Labe is Associated With Gun Rights?

Fast-forward to today, the phrase gained new symbolic meanings. Unfortunately, some groups tend to appropriate ancient symbols to fit their radical views, just like what happened with old Norse runes

That being said, Molon Labe is used as a slogan by the radical fractions of the Second Amendment (2A) community. You should be careful, as you may be misunderstood due to the strong association of this expression with supporters of the right wing. 

A Molon Labe tattoo gained notable popularity in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, particularly in the United States. The phrase has become a powerful symbol of defiance against perceived encroachments on 2A rights in the US and a declaration of the intent to resist any attempts to disarm citizens. 

Molon Labe tattoo option in GTA Online

Molon Labe tattoo option in GTA Online

But apart from the 2A, this symbol is also popular among military veterans and patriots. Some people may see the phrase “Molon Labe” as a symbol of personal defiance, strength, and resilience in the face of challenges, or just as a cool tattoo for men.

Вest Molon Labe Tattoo Ideas

Вest Molon Labe Tattoo Ideas

This tattoo has several variations, but one thing remains the same: a Molon Labe tattoo must feature the exact ancient Greek phrase. The setting in which you have your tattoo adds all the charm. 

Below, you will see the most common Molon Labe tattoo ideas in six different motifs. However, we must warn you that you will not see any designs with the US flag or in the colors of the flag, as we consider this a theft and cultural appropriation of the Greek heritage.

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Spartan Molon Labe Tattoo 

A classic choice, featuring the iconic Spartan helmet, accompanied by the Molon Labe phrase. It represents strength, solidity, and the spirit of the Spartan warriors. For some, this soldier in the helmet represents not just someone from the troop, but Leonidas himself.

This tattoo can be done both in black-and-gray style and with the addition of colors: the Spartan helmet can be distinguished by the bronze glow of the metal with a prominent nose guard, and the red plume in some cases.

The Molon Labe lettering is usually integrated with the helmet or placed around it. You can also add it in the form of an engraving on a Molon Labe spartan helmet tattoo.

Molon Labe Arrow Tattoo

A Molon Labe sleeve tattoo design features an arrow piercing through the helmet. The focus here is more on the sad fate of the Spartans in that fateful battle. As we remember, the Spartans lost, and the Persian king beheaded Leonidas.

The arrow that passes through the helmet symbolizes the determination to defend one’s rights despite challenges. The design can be decorated with geometric shapes or other decorations.

To see even more tattoo variations, check out our gallery of tattoo ideas! You can search for any tattoo here and sort by preference.

Molon Labe Crossed Weapon Tattoo

The central focus of the tattoo is a pair of crossed weapons, such as swords or spears, alongside the Molon Labe script. The crossed position emphasizes the historical reference of the expression: the defense of the right to fight for freedom, and the refusal to give up on arms, even at the cost of life.

This design comes with a variation of a modern Molon Labe tattoo, featuring firearms.

Molon Labe Spartan Lettering Tattoo

Any design with Molon Labe includes lettering, but the lettering itself is just enough as well. There are two traditional ways to get this tattoo, the only condition being that the phrase is written exclusively in Greek.

The only difference is in the fonts. The first design contains an inscription in capital Greek letters. “ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ” looks more epic and recognizable than “μολών λαβέ,” doesn’t it?

The second version of the lettering looks more like ancient runes than a font. But of course, you don’t have to stick to these two designs, you can always try something different.

Usually, a Molon Labe tattoo is placed along the forearm, which is the most visible part of the body. And because the phrase is written in the Greek language, be prepared to explain to people what you have written there from time to time.

Modern Molon Labe Tattoo

Most modern designs are associated with the 2nd Amendment Molon Labe tattoo, like the design featuring a snake wrapping around the riffle. They take inspiration from the historical context of the Battle of Thermopylae while incorporating current realities.

For example, instead of the traditional crossed swords and spears, firearms or bullets are depicted here. Images of modern military personnel are also included.

Such tattoos also feel modern in style, as can be seen in the neo-traditional and trash polka versions.

Molon Labe Black-and-Gray Tattoo

A modern Molon Labe tattoo is a personal statement, not a fixed design. In this section, we have added other unique variations for tattoos. 

Here, fantasies and masculinity play to the fullest: shields, skulls, brutal Spartan helmets, laurel wreaths, you name it. The black-and-gray aesthetic imparts a sense of timelessness and sophistication to the Molon Labe tattoo. 

Check out our collection of “We The People” tattoos if you’re looking for patriotic designs!

Best Placement For Molon Labe Tattoo

The expression is versatile in terms of the best placement. We already mentioned that lettering is the most popular Molon Labe forearm tattoo variation, but the bicep, chest, back, and even fingers will do as well.

Less visible placements include shoulders, calves, and the rib cage. Choose a placement that resonates with your interpretation of the saying and personal connection to it. Choose wisely, because with this tattoo, you should be aware of potential reactions, including suspicious or negative ones.

Summary

The Molon Labe tattoo is a powerful and symbolic design rooted in ancient Greek history, specifically associated with the Battle of Thermopylae. In this article, we analyze the origin of the expression, its interpretation in the modern US, and the 50 best Molon Labe tattoo designs.

We did not include tattoos with Molon Labe featuring the US flag or colors because we believe there are many better ways to express patriotism than taking a Greek symbol. But feel free to discuss this matter with your tattoo artist.

FAQ

🏹 What Does Molon Labe Symbolize?

Originally, the phrase “Molon Labe” was used to show defiance and courage. Today, diverse meanings depend on the wearer, including pro-gun rights, military resilience, patriotism, or personal values.

⚔️ Is Molon Labe a Military Tattoo?

Not really, this tattoo is not considered military, even though it is popular among the military

🚫 What Kinds of Tattoos Are Allowed in the Military?

Military regulations vary, but generally, tattoos that are not offensive, extremist, or on certain body parts (like face and hands) are allowed.

🤔 What Do Greek Tattoos Mean?

Greek tattoos often draw inspiration from ancient mythology, symbols, or phrases such as “Molon Labe.” They can symbolize personal heritage, strength, resilience, or affinity for Greek culture.

🔊 How Do You Pronounce Molon Labe?

Molon Labe is pronounced as [maw-lawn lah-veh], with the stress on the second syllable in both words.

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