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.
In Athens he became famous for celebrating the heroes and battles against the Persians. He is said to have written some of the epigrams that were put on plaques at Thermopyle in memorandum of the great battle between the Greecs and the Persians. One of them said "Here fought once against three million barbarians, four thousand Peloponnesian men."
He also excelled at elegies, his genius was inclined to the pathetic, and none could touch with truer effect the chords of human sympathy.
Little is left of his works, of which only fragments are extant.