Simon who? The Story Behind A Playground Favorite
How many times have you played simon says and said to yourself, I’m always saying to myself, I’m gonna kill this guy named Simon…
Simon says, put your hands on your head. Simon says, turn around.
Put your hands down. Out!
If that gives you flashbacks to standing in kindergarten, arms at your sides, while all your classmates point and stifle giggles, let’s just say you’re not the only one.
‘Simon Says’ is centuries old, a childhood favorite all around the world, and remains popular in today’s classrooms where teachers use it to teach impulse control, listening ability, and motor skills. But where did the game originate, and just who was Simon, anyway?
Turns out it wasn’t Simon Says, to begin with. It was “Cicero Says” — in tribute to renowned Roman orator and statesman Marcus Tullius Cicero. In Latin, the phrase is “Cicero dicit fac hoc,” meaning “Cicero says do this.” Why? As one of the most respected and enduring wordsmiths of the ancient world, if Cicero said something, you listened — and so the game was born.
Unfortunately for Cicero, someone forgot to tell fellow statesman Mark Antony the rules.The pair had a bitter rivalry that would end with Antony and his political allies declaring Cicero to be an enemy of the state, assassinating him, and placing his head and hands on display in the center of Rome. Guess “Cicero says, don’t assassinate me” didn’t quite have enough pull.
So how did we get from Cicero to Simon? The change could be a simple matter of centuries of use turning the relatively unfamiliar “Cicero” into something more normal and everyday — but at least according to some, it’s a reference to another great historical statesman, 13th-century French-English noble Simon de Montfort.