As the Olympics move from Week 1 to Week 2, so does Tattoo Lou's move from ancient Greece to ancient Rome in our exploration of Tattoo History.
The Romans were heavily influenced by the Greeks, adapting their gods and goddesses, their architecture and more. Another similarity were their views on tattooing. Slaves and criminals were the most often inked, though the Romans had a history of tattooing soldiers as well. During the massive expansion of the Roman Empire, their armies became heavily manned by mercenaries, and tattoos were a way of tracking and identifying them in case they deserted their regiments.
Overall, tattoos were considered the mark of barbarians in both ancient Greece and Rome, and so the elite of society rarely if ever bore them, in sharp contrast to other cultures where it was only the elites who were permitted to get inked, and tattoos were considered to be an honor of the highest order.