Simonides was a famous lyric poet from the city of Iulis, in the island of Ceos, off the coast of Attica. He left his native island in his youth and went to Athens, where he spent the largest part of his life. He probably also spent some time at the court of Hieron, the tyrant of Syracuse, where he may have met with Pindar. He was probably the first to write victory odes for winners at the Olympic games, a genre in which Pindar would later become most famous. He wrote an epitaph for the Spartans dead at the Thermopylæ with Leonidas that was most famous in antiquity. Little is left of his works, of which only fragments are extant.
Epitaph At Thermopylae
Four thousand of us fought three million.
When you visit Sparta, tell them:
Here, the soldiers kept their word.
Go tell the Spartans, thou that passeth by,
That here, obedient to their laws, we lie.