Sangam literature refers to a body of classical Tamil literature created between the years 2nd century BC to 2nd century AD. This collection contains 2381 poems written by 473 poets, some 102 of whom are anonymous authors. The period during which these poems were written is commonly referred to as the 'Sangam age, referring to the prevalent Sangam legends claiming literary academies lasting thousands of years, giving the name to the corpus of literature. Sangam was an association of literary figures. The literature refers to the contact with Greco-Roman traders. Discovery of certain archaeological sites in South India which indicate the existence of settlements of these foreign traders in South India. In these sites Roman pottery with Roman wine has been discovered. Sangam literature gives details regarding the nature of polity, economy and society. Sangam literature is primarily secular dealing with everyday themes in a South Indian context. The poems belonging to the Sangam literature were composed by Tamil poets, both men and women, from various professions and classes of society. These poems were later collected into various anthologies, edited and had colophons added by anthologists and annotators around 1000 CE. Sangam literature fell out of popular memory soon thereafter, until they were rediscovered in the 19th century by scholars such as S.V.Damodaran Pillai and U.V Swaminathan Iyer.
Sangam literature deals with emotional and material topics such as love, war, governance, trade, and bereavement. Much of the Tamil literature believed to have been written in the Sangam period is lost to us, though detailed lists of works known to the 10th century compilers have survived. In their antiquity and in their contemporaneity, there is not much else in any Indian literature equal to these quiet and dramatic Tamil poems. In their values and stances, they represent a mature classical poetry: passion is balanced by courtesy, transparency by ironies and nuances of design, impersonality by vivid detail, austerity of line by richness of implication. The Sangam literature gives the picture of a primitive society and the transformation of this primitive society into a developed one. There is reference to migration of Brahmans and Buddhists into South India. This infused certain changes in the South Indian society. There was the introduction of varna system in South India
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