The Ouroboros is a mystical symbol representing a dragon devouring its own tail. It represents the eternal cycle of life and death or wholeness and infinity. The circular affinity suggests the eternal cycle of life and death that happens to each. The head of the dragon represents the beginning of life, while the tail as it is being bitten represents the end of life, the circular motion shows the perpetual cycle of life and death as the dragon consumes its tail. All of the seven main Homunculi in the Fullmetal Alchemist series are presumed to have the mark located somewhere upon their person as if tattooed there, except for Pride in the manga and 2009 anime. This particular Ouroboros displays a winged serpent with its tail in its mouth, creating a circle with its body. Encircled within is a hexagram, which is a symbol often associated with alchemy as well as human creation. One could perceive the Ouroboros as a sort of basis for the Transmutation Circles used in the series and it is possible that the Ouroboros may also symbolize a solar eclipse in some belief structures.
Locations of Ouroboros tattoos
In all versions of the story
- Lust's Ouroboros is located on her upper sternum, just above her breasts.
- Gluttony's Ouroboros is located on his tongue.
- Envy's Ouroboros is located on their left thigh.
- Greed's Ouroboros is located on the back of his left hand.
In the manga and 2009 anime
- Wrath's Ouroboros is located on his left eye (same as Pride in the 2003 anime).
- Sloth's Ouroboros is located on the back of his right shoulder.
- Pride is the only Homunculus without an Ouroboros, instead having a circular mark on his true form's forehead.
In the 2003 anime only
- Wrath's Ouroboros is located on the sole of his right foot.
- Sloth's Ouroboros is located above her left breast, presumably at the heart.
- Pride's Ouroboros is located on his left eye (same as Wrath in the manga and 2009 anime).
- The word Ouroboros is derived from the Greek words "ουρά" + "βορά", tail + prey. This could be roughly translated as "he who eats his tail", matching the imagery of a dragon eating its own tail.
- The actual appearance of an Ouroboros is a snake or a dragon (with hands) eating itself in an assymmetrical circle.
- As seen from the images, the manga version of the Ouroboros is slightly different from the anime versions. The hexagram that encompasses the center is changed to a more stylized hexagram, presumably to avoid any kind of religious references.
- In the first anime, Homunculi can be reduced to a state where they are completely dominated by their sin if their tattoo is removed. This is seen with Gluttony when his tattoo is removed and he becomes a mindless eating machine.
- In the last episode of the 2003 anime series and movie, Envy's dragon form references the ouroboros symbol tattooed on the homunculi, as well as being the personification of his sin.
- Ironically, the meaning of an Ouroboros is using magic or alchemy, which the Homunculi cannot do.
- It is most ironic to Wrath, because the Ouroboros also means reconstructing itself over and over i.e. regeneration, which is something Wrath is also incapable of.