Sotades The Obscene of Maronea

Inventor of the palindrome.

(from The Palindromist, a journal for people who WRITE and read palindromes, Fall 1996, p5)

Most sources credit Sotades with inventing palindromes in Greek-ruled Egypt, back in the 3rd century BC. In fact, palindromes were once known as "Sotadic verses." If you've seen his name mentioned, you probably know he was thrown into the sea (wrapped in lead) by King Ptolemy II, for insulting the king in one of his verses. And that's it.

This article gives you the rest of the story. It is a detailed, heavily researched life story of his family, notorious poetry and death. It includes (for the first time) English translations of everything he wrote (that survives).

The article discusses the foulness and scurrility of Sotades' poems, attacks on him by ancient Greek and Roman authors, and the full story of why Ptolemy II had him killed.

Back to the Palindromist.