Lyric Poet (c556 BC – c469 BC)
Simonides was a figure whose work was recognized during his own lifetime as a poet. As a connoisseur of the Greek language, he gained widespread popularity for his monumental poems commemorating a heroic death, a victory or other deeds worth remaining in history. Among them are the elegiac verses written for the heroes that died triumphantly at the Battle of Marathon in 490 BC, a poem written as a reminiscent of the glorious victory of the Greeks in the Battle of Plateae in 479 BC against the Persian army and his most famous verse on the 300 Spartans that fell in the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC.
The reason that Simonides distinguished from other poets of his time lies in the mathematical structure of the Greek language. We know that in Ancient Greece, the letters of the alphabet also served as numbers and that each word was represented by an arithmetic value. Bellow is an examination of his most famous verse on the Battle of Thermopylae:
“Ω ΞΕΙΝ, ΑΓΓΕΛΕΙΝ ΛΑΚΕΔΑΙΜΟΝΙΟΙΣ ΟΤΙ ΤΗΔΕ ΚΕΙΜΕΘΑ, ΤΟΙΣ ΚΕΙΝΩΝ ΡΗΜΑΣΙ ΠΕΙΘΟΜΕΝΟΙ”
(Oh friend passing by, go tell the Spartans that here, obedient to their laws we lie).
Now assuming that:
Ω ΞΕΙΝ, ΑΓΓΕΛΕΙΝ ΛΑΚΕΔΑΙΜΟΝΙΟΙΣ = 1583 = 600π – (1+300) (α)
(Oh friend passing by, go tell the Spartans)
ΟΤΙ ΤΗΔΕ ΚΕΙΜΕΘΑ, ΤΟΙΣ ΚΕΙΝΩΝ ΡΗΜΑΣΙ ΠΕΙΘΟΜΕΝΟΙ = 3010 = 10 x (1+300) (β)
(that here, obedient to their laws we lie)
We can understand from equation (a) that Leonidas (symbolized with the number 1) and the 300 Spartans by their death leave the World (600=ΚΟΣΜΟΣ=WORLD) of the mortals, or from eternal life (600π), and enter the World of immortality, symbolized by 10 x (1+300).
Therefore, it is evident from the mathematical deciphering of the sentences that the actual reason behind the popularity of the encomium during antiquity was because not only of the poetic expression of the highest degree of sacrifice in the name of duty, but also because, mathematically, it expressed the essence of the glorious event.
It is indeed remarkable the degree by which Simonides could handle the language. Unfortunately, most of his work has been lost, with only mere fragments of some of his poems remaining. He is also credited as being the one to have introduced the letters Η, Ω, Ξ, Ψ in the Greek Alphabet in the 4th century BC.
- Manias, Theophanes. The Unknown Masterpieces of the Ancient Greeks. Athens: Pyrinos Kosmos, 2006. Print.