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poetry

Representational image of high priestess and poet Enheduanna.

Enheduanna: High Priestess of the Moon and the First Known Author

The ancient Sumerian poet Enheduanna has a unique claim to fame: she was the first author in the world known by name. While there were previous instances of poems and stories written down, Enheduanna...
The octagon-shaped tomb is filled with murals and has a pyramid-shaped roof.

Octagonal Walled, Pyramidal Chinese Tomb Whispers Ancient Moral Messages

Mythologies, philosophies and religions around the world are bolted together with stories, poems and songs offering moral messages which we hope our children will to aspire to live by. So often,...
‘Sappho and Alcaeus’ (1881) by Lawrence Alma-Tadema.

Sappho: Putting Together Fragments to Gain an Image of the Tenth Muse

By Van Bryan/ Classical Wisdom Besides being born on the island of Lesbos around 630 BC, and this date is often disputed, surprisingly little is known about the life of the beloved poet Sappho. The...
A man in traditional Scottish attire

Willies, Ghillies and Horny Highlanders: Scottish Gaelic Writing has a Filthy Past

Think of Scotland’s Highlands and islands and you probably think hills, glens, tartan, shortbread, bagpipes, caber-tossing, whisky, haggis, stags in the mist, grandiose aristocrats, bearded ghillies...
From the same 1429 Persian manuscript. Sañjīvaka/Schanzabeh.

What Pearls of Wisdom are Held in the Animal Tales of the Panchatantra?

The Panchatantra (which means the ‘Five Principles’ in Sanskrit) is a collection of interwoven short stories from India. The tales in the Panchatantra are told in both prose and poetry, and consist...
The "Disk of Enheduanna" at the Penn Museum in Philadelphia.

The Poetry of Gods by Enheduanna - The First Known Female Writer

It is not always easy to read the stories of real people from the artifacts they left behind. This is especially true if they lived 5,000 years ago. However, the story of a remarkable woman from that...
The Icelandic Kvöldvaka: Cultural Phenomenon in the Twilight Hours

The Icelandic Kvöldvaka: Cultural Phenomenon in the Twilight Hours

Iceland’s strong love of literature is a source of amazement to many people. In an era of declining book sales around the world, this small North Atlantic island continues to publish and sell more...
Solon, the wise lawgiver of Athens.

Solon: The Father of Western Law

Solon the Athenian was a great philosopher and one of the seven sages of ancient Greece. However, he’s mainly remembered for being the legislator who laid the foundation for Athenian democracy with...
This painting of Teofilo Folengo, a Renaissance poet, by an unknown artist is in the San Sebastian Museum in Italy. A father and son doctor team says the smile shows pathology, probably a stroke or brain tumor.

Influential 16th century poet diagnosed with pathological condition from his twisted smile

Teofilo Folengo was a prominent 16 th century poet who wrote fantastic works that influenced later writers, including Francois Rabelais, author of Gargantua and Pantagruel. Two Italian doctors...
Fresco of Dante and the Divine Comedy (1465), Domenico di Michelino, Florence cathedral, Italy

A Pilgrimage of Thought: the Politician, Poet, and Pilgrim called Dante Alighieri

Born in Florence in the late thirteenth century, Dante Alighieri would grow up to become one of the most famed and well-read authors of the Italian Middle Ages. The scope of his political and...
Actaeon Surprising Diana (Artemis) in the bath, by Titian

Poet Sappho, the Isle of Lesbos, and sex tourism in the ancient world

The sexual proclivities of ancient Greece is almost as mythologized as their legendary heroes. In fact, the entire Greek pantheon of gods is renowned for its hedonistic sexual antics and exploits...
The Defense of the Sampo, magical artifact of Finnish folklore.

The Magical Sampo: Object of Power and Riches in Finnish Folklore

The Kalevala, a poem based on Finnish folklore and mythology, is regarded as the national epic of Finland. As such, the 28 of February has been set aside in Finland as a day to commemorate this piece...
Clodia Metelli

The Infamy of Clodia Metelli

Clodia Metelli lived in the first century BC, a time when the Roman Republic was controlled by a handful of affluent families, whose quarrels would soon lead to civil war and the rise of an empire...
Ancient Sumerian Love Poem

The 4,000-Year-Old Sumerian Love Poem and the Sacred Ritual of Marriage

'Bridegroom, dear to my heart; goodly is your beauty, honeysweet; lion, dear to my heart'. These are the passionate words of a lover to a king, from more than 4,000 years ago, in the oldest known...
Ulysses at the court of Alcinous - Homer

Homer: From Oral Tradition to Canon

The Iliad and the Odyssey, two of the oldest narratives to withstand time. Accredited to Homer, these poetic verses have preserved memories from an era gone by, an age of heroes. Although, it beckons...