Explanation of the Tattoo of the Sixth in the Grey Man: Greek Myth & Real Meaning


Warning! SPOILERS for the Gray Man.

Claire and Six have a remarkable conversation in The Grey Man about the meaning of his tattoo with a Greek name, although he never tells her who this mythological character is. Netflix’s “Grey Man” follows Sierra Six, whose real name is Cort Gentry, a CIA assassin whose prison sentence was commuted in exchange for a lifetime commitment to the agency. After he reveals the dark secrets of the CIA, the Sixth goes on the run. While the CIA is trying to track down its most experienced killer, antagonist Lloyd Hansen (Chris Evans) captures Sixth’s mentor Donald Fitzroy and his niece Claire, two close relatives of Ryan Gosling’s character.

When Six discovers that Claire has been captured, Grey Man remembers when they first met. While Donald was away, Six was assigned to look after the orphaned Claire, who has a heart condition requiring a pacemaker. During the first real meeting between Six and Claire, a confident young girl asks Six about a curious tattoo on his arm, which she correctly guesses he did in prison. The main character of the Gray Man explains that the tattoo is the name of a Greek guy who was punished by the gods, forcing him to push a boulder uphill for the rest of his life — a fitting connection with how the Sixth perceives his own struggle.

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While the Gray Man never directly mentions the name of a mythological character, the Greek whose name was tattooed by the Sixth is Sisyphus. In Greek mythology, Sisyphus was the founder and king of Corinth, who was punished by the gods for having twice escaped death by deception. For the first time, Zeus ordered Thanatos to chain Sisyphus in the torturous abyss, but Sisyphus deceived Thanatos, the divine personification of death, and instead bound him, preventing the onset of death on Earth. After Ares intervened, Sisyphus cheated death a second time, tricking Hades to allow him to return to Earth for a short time, but the king stayed and lived to old age. As mentioned in the film “The Grey Man”, Zeus sentenced Sisyphus to roll a massive boulder up a hill, although he rolled to the bottom as soon as he approached the top, and the Greek figure repeated this effort for eternity in the afterlife. The meaning of the Greek myth of Sisyphus is often associated with time-consuming or impossible tasks and is used to describe a hopeless struggle.

How is the myth of Sisyphus related to the Grey Man’s Sierra Six

After Claire asks Six if a Greek character has ever climbed to the top, the Grey Man character replies that he will let her know, assuming he sees himself as Sisyphus. Since the Sixth feels such a personal connection with Sisyphus and got a tattoo in prison, he probably views his struggle for freedom as his own version of rolling a boulder uphill, which always falls back. Every time Ryan Gosling’s character approaches his own freedom, he is punished and placed in a new situation that puts him in chains again, since Six can never push a boulder off a hill.

When the Sixth tried to free himself from his father by killing him, he was put in prison. When the Sixth was almost released from prison, becoming an agent of Sierra, he was simply put in new chains. When the Sixth tried to escape from the corrupt CIA, an international wanted list was imposed on him. Although he runs off with Claire at the end of The Grey Man, it’s clear that he hasn’t earned his freedom yet. Six Grey Men sees himself as a figure who has been punished by the gods forever, wondering if he will ever be able to throw a boulder over a hill. Although Sisyphus failed in this attempt, Sierra-6 still has a chance for the future of the Gray Man.


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