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History {{#invoke:Hatnote|hatnote}}

In Ancient Rome, professional poets were generally sponsored by patrons, wealthy supporters including nobility and military officials.<ref>Barbara K. Gold, (2014) Literary and Artistic Patronage in Ancient Rome", University of Texas Press</ref> For instance, Gaius Cilnius Maecenas, friend to Caesar Augustus, was an important patron for the Augustan poets, including both Horace and Virgil.

Poets held an important position in pre-Islamic Arabic society with the poet or sha'ir filling the role of historian, soothsayer and propagandist. Words in praise of the tribe (qit'ah) and lampoons denigrating other tribes (hija') seem to have been some of the most popular forms of early poetry. The sha'ir represented an individual tribe's prestige and importance in the Arabian peninsula, and mock battles in poetry or zajal would stand in lieu of real wars. 'Ukaz, a market town not far from Mecca, would play host to a regular poetry festival where the craft of the sha'irs would be exhibited.

In the High Middle Ages, troubadors were an important class of poets and came from a variety of backgrounds. They lived and travelled in many different places and were looked upon as actors or musicians as much as poets. They were often under patronage, but many travelled extensively.

The Renaissance period saw a continuation of patronage of poets by royalty. Many poets, however, had other sources of income, including Italians like Dante Aligheri, Giovanni Boccaccio and Petrarch's works in a pharmacist's guild and William Shakespeare's work in the theater.

In the Romantic period and onwards, many poets were independent writers who made their living through their work, often supplemented by income from other occupations or from family.<ref>Peter T. Murphy (2005) "Poetry as an Occupation and an Art in Britain" Cambridge University Press</ref> This included poets such as William Wordsworth and Robert Burns.

Poets such as Virgil in the Aeneid and John Milton in Paradise Lost invoked the aid of a Muse.


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