Simonides of Ceos

Ancient Greek musician and poet

Simonides of Ceos (c. 556 BC469 BC) was a Greek lyric poet.


Not even the gods fight against necessity.
  • ὦ ξεῖν', ἀγγέλλειν Λακεδαιμονίοις ὅτι τῇδε
    κείμεθα τοῖς κείνων ῥήμασι πειθόμενοι.
  • O xein', angellein Lakedaimoniois hoti teide
    keimetha tois keinon rhemasi peithomenoi.
  • [Word-for-word translation]
    O stranger, announce to the Lacadaemonians [Spartans] that here
    We lie, to their words [or laws] obedient.
    • Go, tell the Spartans, stranger passing by
      That here, obedient to their laws, we lie.
    • Epitaph on the Cenotaph of Thermopylae, recorded by Herodotus.
    • Note: There is a long unsolved dispute around the interpretation of the word rhemasi, such as laws, words or orders.
      • Variant translations:
Go, tell the Spartans, thou who passest by,
That here obedient to their laws we lie.

Stranger, go tell the men of Lacedaemon
That we, who lie here, did as we were ordered.

Stranger, bring the message to the Spartans that here
We remain, obedient to their orders.

Oh foreigner, tell the Lacedaemonians
That here we lie, obeying their words.
Go, tell the Spartans, passerby,
that here by Spartan law we lie.
  • Here lies Megistias, who died
    When the Medes crossed Spercheius' tide.
    A great seer, yet he scorned to save
    Himself, and shared the Spartans' grave.
    • Epitaph of the Spartan Diviner, Megistias, at Thermopylae
  • ἀνάγκῃ δ᾽ οὐδὲ θεοὶ μάχονται
    • Not even the gods fight against necessity.
    • Quoted by Plato in the dialogue Protagoras, 345d (Simonides Fr. 37.1.27 ff.).
      • Variant translations:
The gods do not fight against necessity.
Not even the gods war against necessity.
I praise and love all men who do no sin willingly; but with necessity even the gods do not contend.
  • We did not flinch but gave our lives to save Greece when her fate hung on a razor's edge.
    • From the Cenotaph at the Isthmos
  • … ζωγραφίαν ποίησιν σιωπῶσαν προσαγορεύει [sc. ὁ Σιμωνίδης], τὴν δὲ ποίησιν ζωγραφίαν λαλοῦσαν.
    • Painting is silent poetry, and poetry painting that speaks.
    • Quoted by Plutarch, De gloria Atheniensium 3.346f.
      • Variant translations:
Painting is silent poetry, and poetry is painting with the gift of speech.
Painting is silent poetry, poetry is eloquent painting.
See also: Ut pictura poesis

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