Simonides of Ceos

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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. (wrongly attributed)[1]
  • Ō xein', angellein Lakedaimoniois hoti tē(i)de
    keimetha tois keinōn rhēmasi 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.
      • Go, tell the Spartans
        stranger passing by,
        that here, obedient to Spartan law,
        we dead of Sparta 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.
  • "Anankei d' oude theoi makhontai."
    • 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.
  • … zographian poiesin sioposan prosagoreuei, ten de poiesin zographian lalousan.
    • 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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  1. Upward attribution and ‘Go tell the Spartans (Peter Gainsford)(