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This article is about the 3rd-century BC poet. For the Cretan runner, see Sotades of Crete.

Sotades (Greek: Σωτάδης; 3rd century BC) was an Ancient Greek poet.

Sotades was born in Maroneia, either the one in Thrace, or in Crete. He was the chief representative of the writers of obscene and even pederastic satirical poems, called Kinaidoi, composed in the Ionic dialect and in the "sotadic" metre named after him. The sotadic metre or sotadic verse, which has been classified by ancient and modern scholars as a form of ionic metre, is one that reads backwards and forwards the same, as “llewd did I live, and evil I did dwell.” These verses have also been called palindromic.

Sotades lived in Alexandria during the reign of Ptolemy II Philadelphus (285-246 BC). One of his poems attacked Ptolemy's marriage to his own sister Arsinoe, from which came the infamous line: "You're sticking your prick in an unholy hole."[1] For this, Sotades was imprisoned, but he escaped to the island of Caunus, where he was afterwards captured by Patroclus, Ptolemy's admiral, shut up in a leaden chest, and thrown into the sea.

Only a few genuine fragments of Sotades have been preserved; those in Stobaeus are generally considered spurious. Ennius translated some poems of this kind, included in his book of satires under the name of Sola.

Sotades was also the author of some of the first recorded palindromes, and many credit him with the invention of that particular genre of composition.

Richard Francis Burton named the Sotadic zone, a supposed geographical belt where he hypothesized male homosexuality was unusually prevalent, after Sotades.


  1. ^ Plutarch, On the Education of Children, 11a; Athenaeus, xiv. 621a. Translation from Graham Shipley, The Greek World After Alexander, 323-30 B.C., page 185. Routledge.

External links[edit]

  • Sotades from the Wiki Classical Dictionary
  • Sotades (2) from Smith, Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology (1867)