Silappadikaram is one of the five epics of ancient Tamil Literature. The poet prince Ilango Adigal, a Jaina monk, is credited with this work. He is reputed to be the brother of Senguttuvan from Chera. As a literary work, it is held in high regard by the Tamils. The nature of the book is narrative and has a moralistic undertone. It contains three chapters and a total of 5270 lines of poetry. The epic revolves around Kannagi, who having lost her husband to a miscarriage of justice at the court of the Pandya king, wreaks her revenge on his kingdom.
Silappatikaram has been dated to belong to the 1st century , although the author might have built upon a pre-existing folklore to spin this tale. The story involves the three Tamil kingdoms of the ancient era, the Chola, the Pandya and the Chera. Silappatikaram has many references to historical events and personalities, although it has not been accepted as a reliable source of history by many historians because of the inclusion of many exaggerated events and achievements to the ancient Tamil kings.
Regarded as one of the great achievements of Tamil genius, the Silappatikaram is a poetic rendition with details of Tamil culture; its varied religions; its town plans and city types; the mingling of Greek, Arab, and Tamil peoples; and the arts of dance and music.