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Palindrome week: The father of palindromes was buried standing on his feet

Palindrome week is this week because all dates read the same forward and backward. Besides palindrome week dates, watching a funny video, and creating some of your own palindromes, many people wonder who came up with the idea of palindromes. According to an April 14 Newsmax report, “Palindrome Week started on 4/12/14 and ends on 4/19/14, and those dates and the ones in between read the same no matter which direction you start from.”

Palindrome week: The father of palindromes was buried standing on his feet
Malorie Maddox via WOWT 6 News' Twitter Page

The meaning of the word “palindrome” comes from the Greek root “palin,” which means “again,” and the word “dromos,” which means “way” or “direction.” The word was created in the 17th century by the English writer Ben Jonson.

To some degree, Ben Jonson did not only create the word but also personified it. Ben Jonson was a playwright, a poet, and a literary critic who lived around the time of Shakespeare from 1572 to 1637. As a poet, Ben Jonson “played” with words. As a playwright, he popularized the comedy of humors, and as a literary critic, he approached the written word from all different perspectives – forward and backward.

To follow in Ben Jonson’s steps and to enjoy the fun of creating palindromes, PalindromeGenerator has a website where users can type in any text and it will show up forward and backwards. Ever wondered what your name would look like backwards?

Of course, the above video adds some more fun to playing with words. What is a Mexican-Fare Feline? – a “taco cat,” of course. “Taco cat” written backwards is still a “taco cat” and the “evil olive” is an evil olive no matter whether it is read forward or backward.

PalindromeList has a website where users can find words, phrases, or sentences that read the same no matter whether one begins to read it from the left or the right. “Are we not drawn onward to new era?” This website allows users to submit their own innovative palindromes which are actually fun to read. Combining the above two websites, the Palindrome Generator and the Palindrome List makes some fun entertainment. “God saved Eva’s dog, don’t nod.”

As Ben Jonson’s poetic and witty mastery of language (and many users of the above websites) point out, palindromes are about fun and creativity. For believers of numerology, biologists, and chemists, there is much more to palindromes though. Is having a unique date of the week at the same time as having the first of four blood moons really a coincidence? Is the fact that the single-stranded DNA sequence ACCTAGGT can be found along with its complementary palindromic TGGATCCA really just a coincidence or is it a sign that nature works at times in palindromic patterns.

Quite interestingly, when it comes to the father of palindromes, it appears that it does not only matter at times whether something is seen from left to right or right to left, but also whether something is vertical or horizontal. Ben Jonson died on Aug. 6, and his funeral was on Aug. 9. According to a Westminster Abbey report, “Ben Jonson (1573-1637), dramatist and poet, is the only person buried in an upright position in Westminster Abbey” – Jonson was buried standing on his feet.


The only problem with being buried in an unconventional way was that when Jonson’s grave was inadvertently disturbed in 1849, “the clerk of works saw the two leg bones of Jonson fixed upright in the sand and the skull came rolling down from a position above the leg bones into the newly made grave. There was still some red hair attached to it.”

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