The concept and meaning behind strength have been with humanity from the early age of man.
You’ll find that the first known human civilization, the Australian Aboriginals, had a shield symbol as part of the culture. It could mean to protect, or it could mean strength.
They also had spear symbols that could insinuate the same meaning.
Strength has always been a common factor in ancient civilizations. The symbolism behind strength may have changed throughout the centuries, but the history remains.
Here are popular strength symbols throughout history, their meaning, and the facts behind them.
Strength Symbols And Their Meanings, History, & Facts (Table Summary)
Strength Symbols Table
|Australian Aboriginals had numerous symbols. They didn’t have a written language but they used iconography to communicate. Here’s an icon of the word ‘man’ that could symbolize strength.
|Horns were sacred in ancient Mesopotamia. In fact, the was a horned cap called agu sha qarni that was only worn by gods to symbolize strength.
|The Egyptians considered the hand to be a symbol of support and strength. To the left is the hieroglyph that represented the word ‘hand.’ This heiroglyph also represented the letter ‘d.’
|This is used as a symbol of sovereignty, royalty, deity, and divine authority in ancient Egypt.
|Ancient Mayans (Jaguar)
|The ancient Mayan people revered and held the jaguars to be sacred beings. They represented ferocity, strength, and valor.
|Ancient Greek (Labrys)
|According to ancient Greek the Labrys is Zeus’ chosen weapon. It represented strength and feminine authority.
|Ancient Greek (Hercules Knot)
|Hercules’ Knot is considered to be a symbol of marriage, love, and strength.
|Ancint Greek (Golden Fleece)
|The Golden Fleece symbolizes spiritual strength.
|Perisan civilization (Leopard)
|The Persian Leopard was a sacred and divine animal that represented strength during the ancient Persian Empire.
|Roman civilization (Caduceus)
|The serpents and the wings on the caudceus symbolize strength.
|Roman civilization (Cornucopia)
|The horn in the cornucopia symbolizes strength while the entire symbol of the cornucopia symbolizes abundance.
|Roman civilization (The Manus)
|The Manus indicated strength, authority, and power for the Romans.
|Roman civilization (Sheaf or Bundle)
|The sheaf or bundle symbolized unification, integration, and strength in the ancient Roman civilization.
|Medieval Era (Knights)
|Knights were feared and protected warriors on the medieval battlefield. They represented honor, strength, and valor.
|Crows symbolized spiritual strength.
|Because of its massive size, the elephant represented strength and libido in several cultures.
|The ancient Egyptians considered the hippo to be a symbol of strength and vigor.
|Known as the ‘king of beasts’ lions represented strength and masculinity.
|Snakes or serpents
|Across different cultures,snakes represent strength.
|The Tiger plays the same role as the Lion. It represents strength and masculinity.
|In ancient China, dragons represent strength and they are also a scared and divine being.
|Giants are massive beings that represent strength thanks to their size.
|This legendary creature represents strength thanks to its horn.
|Flight is on this list because is it is the concept of raising oneself through other qualities such as power or strength.
|Light represents spiritual strength.
|Horns in general are symbols that represent strength. Most horned animals in different cultures represent strength.
|The oak tree was scared to the Greeks and is present in Greek mythology as a symbol of strength.
|As a major arcana card in the tarot deck, the strength card is a straight forward representation of strength.
|The Chariot card is also a major arcana card in the tarot deck. It also symbolizes strength.
|When a stone is whole it symbolizes unity and strength.
|Swords were a religious symbol that represented strength.
|In ancient Egypt, the things supported the human body and represented strength.
|The point of an inverted triangle symbolizes strength.
Read Also: The Meaning of the Infinity Symbol
The Meaning Behind Strength
Today, the meaning behind strength varies across the board. There’s spiritual strength, moral strength, physical strength, mental strength, etc.
Furthermore, when it comes to physical strength, there are different types of strength, but that’s a whole other subject regarding fitness.
Strength is also the ability to achieve something even in a difficult situation. Biblical characters like David showcase this type of strength in his fight against Goliath.
In a nutshell, you cannot classify strength solely based on physical attributes. Strength is a broad term and varies according to the circumstance and context. This article will delve into the different types of strength, their symbols, their meaning, and their history.
Naming strength symbols randomly across history would be too disorganized and wouldn’t show how strength and its meaning changed throughout humanity. With that in mind, we can discuss these strength symbols per the civilization at the time.
However, we cannot list all civilizations. Some of them are even lost. Brittanica lists several ancient civilizations, so for this article, we will list some of the top ancient civilizations known worldwide and the strength symbols associated with them.
We will also list some modern strength symbols that you may encounter in your daily life and may not know their meaning. Here are the strength symbols present throughout humanity’s history.
The Australian Aboriginals are considered the first known human civilization. Its roots start from 50,000 B.C. till today, which is why we have some information regarding their symbols. Furthermore, the descendants of this civilization are still alive today.
Not only that, but the Australian Aboriginal people do not have their written language. They used and still use common symbols or iconography to share their stories. Another thing about Australian Aboriginal art is that context matters. You can’t take for granted that a symbol being next to another symbol produces a fixed meaning every time.
Some icons that may symbolize strength are that of a man, spear, or even the kangaroo. Not only that, but symbols’ meanings can vary between different language groups, and between different artists and family clans.
The ancient Mesopotamian civilization existed between 6,500 B.C. – 539 B.C. It existed in the area we now know as the Middle East, specifically Iraq. It was mainly known for its rich history, geography, and architecture. One of the key reasons that make Mesopotamia an important milestone in human history is that it was the first region or area to develop agriculture.
Horns were a symbol of power and strength in ancient Mesopotamian civilization. The horn is a symbol of strength and fertility because the animals that possessed them were characterized by these qualities.
In ancient Mesopotamia, horns were a divine and sacred element. In ancient Mesopotamia, si which translates to horn held an even stronger association with strength and fertility if they had a phallic shape.
The ancient Egyptian civilization is another well-known and familiar ancient civilization. You’ve probably seen Hollywood movies like the Mummy or The Scorpion King that are set in ancient Egypt. The ancient Egyptian civilization existed between 3150 B.C. – 30 B.C.
A couple of elements stand out when describing ancient Egypt: hieroglyphs, pyramids, and pharaohs.
The Egyptians considered the hand to be a symbol of support and strength. The term representing the hand was related to that for the pillar. A pillar, in turn, represented strength and support.
Not only did the hand signify strength to the Egyptians, but it also signified strength to the Berber culture. Berbers or Imazighen are an ethnic group indigenous to North Africa, specifically Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya. The hand signifies protection, authority, power, and strength.
The Uraeus “;”, or Ouraeus; from Egyptian jꜥrt, “rearing cobra” is the stylized, upright form of an Egyptian cobra. It is used as a symbol of sovereignty, royalty, deity, and divine authority in ancient Egypt.
The Uraeus symbolizes the cleansed serpent—raised or upright in height (the kundalini or the snake), to become a symbol of strength transformed into spirit or an aspect of power.
The Mayan graced us with their amazing architecture. The ancient Mayan Civilisation existed between 2600 B.C. – 900 A.D. One of the most incredible highlights of Mayan civilization was their understanding of astronomy and their architecture, specifically the Mayan Temples.
Some Mayan Temples are part of the seven wonders of the world. So what strength symbols did they use?
Jaguars were very sacred to the ancient Mayan people. They symbolized ferocity, strength, and valor. According to the Mayan culture, Jaguars were one of the gods of the underworld. Ancient Mayan warriors wore jaguar skins into battle to symbolize strength, honor, and courage.
The Ancient Greek Civilization existed from 2700 B.C. – 479 B.C. It is one of history’s most unforgettable cultures. Till today, we use some aspects of Greek culture. For instance, mathematics uses parts of the Greek alphabet. Symbols like alpha and beta are part of the Greek alphabet and are used as mathematical symbols worldwide.
The ancient Greeks practiced Polytheism. Polytheism is the belief in multiple deities or gods. They had several items, mythical items, and symbols that symbolized strength. Here is a couple of them:
In Greek, it was called πέλεκυς. It is an ancient Cretan sacred double ax. In Ancient Greek, the Labrys is the symbol of Zeus, the god of thunder and lightning. It is a symbol of strength, female authority, and female courage.
Hercules’ Knot is a symbol of marriage over time however, it’s well-known for being a symbol of strength. Hercules’ Knot is two ropes tied together to form a knot. It shows undying commitment and love. Not only that, but it also symbolizes strength within a marriage.
The Golden Fleece is a symbol that indicates the conquest of the impossible or the ultra-reasonable. The Golden Fleece is the fleece of a flying, winged ram named Crius Chrysomallos, or the ‘Golden-fleeced Ram.’
The Golden Fleece signifies that the quest of the Argonauts was for supreme spiritual strength through purity of the soul. The Argonauts were a band of heroes in Greek mythology that was part of the quest to find the Golden Fleece.
The ancient Persian civilization existed between 550 B.C. – 331 B.C. The ancient city Persepolis was its capital and the ruins of this city are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. So what strength symbols did the Persians have?
In ancient Persia, the Leopard was a symbol of strength. In particular, the Persian leopard is a symbol of beauty, power, and tranquility with a large agile body that makes it capable of deadly attacks. Are there leopards in the Middle East?
The Persian civilization existed in what we now know as Iran. The leopards mostly live in the mountains of northeastern and southeastern Iran in the distant mountains far from human settlements.
We’ve all probably heard the phrase “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.’ That’s just one example of how prevalent Roman civilization was in human history. The Roman civilization existed between 753 B.C. – 476 A.D.
Augustus, Julius Ceasar, Tiberius, etc are some of the most famous Roman emperors. They made huge contributing factors to the ancient Roman civilization and to the modern world. Here are some of the strength symbols used in ancient Rome.
You’ve probably come across the caduceus symbol in hospitals. It’s a singular rod with two snakes swirling around it. The Caduceus is a symbol of Hermes or Mercury in Greek and Roman mythology.
It symbolizes thieves, merchants, and messengers. The story goes that Mercury or Hermes threw his rod at two fighting snakes, and they coiled around it.
There are several instances of the Caduceus. You will find that ancient Sumerian civilization had their version (or rather the earliest version before the Greeks and Romans) of the Caduceus. The Caduceus’ elements: the serpents and the wings, emphasized a supreme state of strength and self-control (and consequently of health).
In Latin mythology, the Cornucopia is also known as the horn of plenty. The cornucopia is the goat Amalthea that fed the infant Jupiter with milk. It is a large horn-shaped container overflowing with produce, flowers, or nuts. The general symbolism of the horn in cornucopia is strength.
The fruits and nuts add to the abundant meaning behind the entire symbol.
The Manus Marriage or simply known as Manus indicated strength, authority, and power for the Romans. Manus was an Ancient Roman type of marriage. There were two forms: cum manu and sine manu.
In a cum manu marriage, the wife was under the legal control of the husband. While, in a sine manu marriage, the wife remained under the legal control of her father.
Manus also symbolized the authority of the emperor.
In Latin fascis (sheaf or bundle) and fascia (band, sash, or bandage) symbolizes unification, integration, and strength. The Romans believed that the sheaf or the bundle held a negative meaning because it meant to tie down an existence, however, it held a positive meaning.
Knights were the most feared and best-protected warriors on the medieval battlefield. Furthermore, they were also amongst the most fashionably dressed and best-mannered members of Medieval society.
The process of becoming a knight was tedious and long, especially if your background did not favor you. However, this rule didn’t apply till the 13th century. Not only did knights start training from childhood, but they were also bound to their duty till death. For this reason and others, knights were the symbol of honor, strength, justice, generosity, etc.
The crow symbolizes the idea of beginning because of its black color (as expressed in such symbols as maternal night, primigenial darkness, and the fertilizing earth). Not only that, but because it is also associated with the atmosphere, it is a symbol of creativity, demiurgic power (a powerful creative force or personality), and spiritual strength.
The next animal that symbolizes strength is the elephant. In the broadest and most universal sense, the elephant is a symbol of strength and also represents the power of the libido.
In the Egyptian hieroglyph system, the hippo represents strength and vigor. It is also related to the ideas of fertility and water, and, accordingly, to the mother principle.
Lions correspond to gold or the sun. It’s why you’ll find lions symbolize sun deities such as Mithras. The Greeks and Romans considered Mithras to be the sun god.
The lion is also known as the ‘king of beasts and it symbolizes valor, strength, the possessor of strength, and masculinity.
Surprisingly, snakes are on this list. The French Jesuit priest and scientist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin describes the serpent as “an animal endowed with magnetic force. Because it sheds its skin, it symbolizes resurrection. Because of its sinuous movement(and also because its coils are capable of strangling), it signifies strength. Because of its viciousness, it represents the evil side of nature.”
Not only that, but the Yoga concept of the Kundalini or the snake depicts the snake as an image of inner strength. Kundalini is represented symbolically as a snake coiled upon itself in the form of a ring (kundala).
The symbolism behind the tiger has changed over the centuries. In Greek mythology, the tiger is a symbol of wrath and cruelty. In ancient China, it was a symbol of darkness and the new moon.
In China today, the tiger seems to play a role comparable to that of the lion in African and Western cultures: both animals—like the dragon—take on two different characters—a wild beast and a tamed animal.
This reason is why the tiger is an allegorical expression of strength and valor in the service of righteousness.
Dragons are universal, symbolic figures found in the majority of the cultures of the world—primitive and oriental, and classical. The history and meaning behind dragons depended on the culture. For instance, the Sumerians considered dragons to be adversaries, which later came to be attached to the devil.
In many legends, the symbol of a dragon implied an ancient enemy that a ‘hero’ would fight as a supreme test. Think of it as the final boss in a Dark Souls game. The Greek Gods Apollo, Cadmus, Perseus, and Siegfried all conquered dragons in mythology.
Not only do dragons have different meanings in different cultures, but they also have different descriptions. Some cultures describe dragons as having massive wings or that it lives in water.
Chinese mythology conveys dragons as beings of strength and speed. Not only that, but they are also symbols of rhythmic life.
Another fantasy creature that symbolizes strength is the giant. The giant implies the existence of an immense or primordial being. The story behind giants began with primitive or ancient cultures. They would offer human sacrifices to giants to gain favors of some sort. Today, giants do not carry that level of significance. They are simply humongous beings that symbolize power and strength.
The unicorn is on this list because of the massive horn located at the center of its head. Any object or animal that has a pointy end is associated with strength. Thanks to the horn on the unicorn, also carry a symbolic strength meaning.
The symbolism of flight comprises a variety of elements. One meaning of flight that we’re all familiar with is the pleasurable sensation of movement. Another meaning behind flight is raising oneself through other qualities such as power or strength.
Light represented spiritual strength. Light represents the spirit and when one is illuminated, they become aware of the source of light and therefore gain spiritual strength.
Horns typically go hand-in-hand with oxen, so they tend to represent the ancient symbol of the ox, which symbolizes castration, sacrifice, and persistent toil. Not only that, but primitive traditions prove that horns symbolize strength and power.
In China, the horn of a rhinoceros, when carved out into the shape of a cup symbolizes strength and prosperity. It is one of the most common emblems of Chinese culture.
The oak tree is sacred to several Greek gods: Zeus, Jupiter, Dagda, Perun, Cybele, and Thor. It symbolizes strength and long life. The meaning of the oak tree is similar throughout other cultures: Russia, Germany, Greece, and Scandinavia.
Not only is the meaning similar the oak tree was also a venerated symbol by the Greeks, Romans, Celts, Slavs, and Teutonic cultures.
All tarot cards come with a Strength Card, it’s part of the major arcana and is either the XI or VIII card in the deck. Typically, you’ll see a woman petting or stroking a lion’s jaw and forehead on the Strength Card. The Strength card represents strength, determination, and power.
The Strength card symbolizes inner strength and the human spirit’s ability to overcome obstacles. In readings, when the Strength Card shows up, it symbolizes inner power, strong willpower, determination, and inner strength.
Similar to the Strength Card, the Chariot Card also represents strength in most Tarot Decks. The Chariot Tarot card shows a fearless warrior clad in armor standing inside a chariot. The warrior’s armor has crescent moons (representing what is coming into being), a tunic with a square (the strength of will), and other symbols.
A stone is a symbol of being, cohesion, and balanced reconciliation with oneself. When a stone is whole, it symbolizes unity and strength. However, when the stone is shattered, it symbolizes dismemberment, psychic disintegration, infirmity, death, and annihilation.
The sword comprises a blade and a guard. During the Medieval Era, any sword was the object of much veneration. The Scythians used to make an annual sacrifice of several horses to the blade of a sword, which they conceived as a god of war.
As a religious symbol, it is still in use as part of the ceremonial dress of oriental bishops in the Catholic church. Its chief symbolic meaning, however, is of a wound and the power to wound, and hence of liberty and strength.
In the Egyptian hieroglyph system, they express strength. Why? Well, the thighs offer significant support to the human body. This symbolism of the thighs stuck thanks to the Cabala. It lays special emphasis on the firmness and majesty of the thighs.
The point of an inverted triangle symbolizes strength. Its shape is similar to the heart, and if placed at that particular location, it symbolizes the heart. Anything with a pointed tip bears a symbolic relation with strength, aggression, and also direction and exit. Horns, crowns with tips, weapons, and plants with thorns, are all associated with this meaning.
Strength has been and always will be present in humanity. It describes the unbelievable willpower of humanity to overcome adversity. Not only was strength present in ancient civilizations, we see it today in modern times. There has been an evolution in the meaning behind strength, but it all boils down to not succumbing to hardship or misfortune.
There are possibly thousands of strength symbols scattered worldwide from smaller tribes or cultures. Strength and strength symbols aren’t concrete, and all that takes to give it a voice of existence is belief and, quite possibly, hope. You can become your symbol of strength, no one can stop you.