Great Ancient & Medieval Poetry


Joshua J. Mark
published on 17 April 2024

Poetry is the first form of literary expression in the world as evidenced by The Epic of Gilgamesh, the oldest piece of world literature. For over 4,000 years, people have been writing poetry to express personal, communal, or global experiences through one of the most intimate of art forms practiced by human beings in connecting with others.

The following collection presents some of the most famous poets and their works from the ancient and medieval eras. Many important figures have been omitted for space including Sappho of Lesbos and Callimachus of Cyrene, Horace, Ovid, Pindar, Chretien de Troyes, Petrarch, Dante, and Boccaccio, to name only a few, as well as Shakespeare, arguably the greatest poet in the English language. The works below are chosen for the influence they have had on later poets and world literature.



Questions & Answers

What is the oldest poem in the world?

The oldest poem in the world is The Epic of Gilgamesh from Mesopotamia.

Who is the first poet known by name in the world?

The first poet in the world known by name is Enheduanna of the Akkadian Empire, Mesopotamia.

Who is the most popular poet in the world today?

The Persian poet Rumi is the most popular poet in the world today.

Who is the greatest poet of all time?

William Shakespeare is generally considered the greatest poet of all time.
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About the Author

Joshua J. Mark
Joshua J. Mark is World History Encyclopedia's co-founder and Content Director. He was previously a professor at Marist College (NY) where he taught history, philosophy, literature, and writing. He has traveled extensively and lived in Greece and Germany.

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