(Because it is a lot more fun to pronounce than El Cid)
(Also, warning: The original text contains explicit adult content. In very, very elaborate language)
The Civakacintamani is one of the five great Tamil epics, and it is also a religious poem of Jainism. It is known as the Book of Marriages. It was composed in the 10th century by a Jain monk named Tiruttakkatevar. It consists of 3145 verses, of which two-thirds have been meticulously translated and published in English. I read the first volume (verses 1-1165) in full, and the rest in summary.
The hero of the epic is called Civakan; he is the son of King Caccantan who is so lost in the pleasures of loving his beautiful wife that he neglects his royal duties, and is killed by a traitor minister who takes over the kingdom. The pregnant queen escapes in a flying peacock machine (yes you read that right) and gives birth to Civakan on a burial ground. The prince is found and raised by a wealthy man who has no children of his own, and finds out about his origins later.
There is one thing you need to know about Civakan: Women love him. As in, they throw themselves at him. As in, they wail when he walks by. As in, their boobs literally pop out of their blouses when they see him. Yeah. He's popular. So much so that a lot of the headings in the translation read as "Women," "Other Women," "Still More Women," and, finally, "All the Women."
(He's also smart and strong and all of those other things)
The story of the epic pretty much sums up like this: Civakan travels the realm planning his vengeance against the traitor-king, does heroic things, fights heroic fights, and marries a lot of women. Eight, to be precise. After he gets all of them pregnant, he renounces the world, accepts the Jain teachings, and marries himself to omniscience.
Some of this epic is very steamy... Well, all right. A lot of it is very steamy (good to read epics from cultures where pleasure was not something to be ashamed of). The descriptions are long, elaborate, luxurious, and full of fruit and flower metaphors. The best one, however, goes like this:
The queen was like a ripened fruit for desire.
The king was like a beautiful winged bat.
Apart from the glorious language, the epic has some other great things as well. For example, the aforementioned flying mechanical peacock that is made specifically for the queen, and she practices flying it for several verses before it becomes her escape vehicle.
Also great is the scene where King Caccantan, to let his pregnant wife fly away, puts up an epic fight against the traitor and his army, and holds the upper hand until his last breath. He goes down with a fight for the ages. The closing lines of the verse are:
"... manly Caccantan sank down
so the desirable breasts of the Goddess
of the Earth pressed against him and
he waned away like the sinking sun."
There is also a brief mention of female sword troops protecting a princess. But I think they had me at "beautiful winged bat."