The primary epic of Tamil literature.
The peerless young Kôvalan leaves his loyal wife Kannaki for the courtesan Mâdhavi, and though he returns to her, he still meets his death because of her ill-omened ankle bracelet. The Shilappadikaram has been called an epic and even a novel, but it is also a book of general education. Adigal packed his story with information: history merging into myth, religious rites, caste customs, military lore, descriptions of city and country life. And four Cantos are little anthologies of the poetry of the period (seashore and mountain songs, hunters’ and milkmaid’s song). Thus the story gives us a vivid picture of early Indian life in all its aspects.