Akhtal, fully Ghiyath ibn Ghawth al-Taghlibi al-Akhtal (c. 640-710), was one of the most famous Arab poets of the Umayyad period. He belonged to the tribe of Taghlib in Upper Mesopotamia, and was, like his fellow-tribesmen, a Christian, enjoying the freedom of his religion.
Of Akhtal's private life few details are known, save that he was married and divorced, and that he spent part of his time in Damascus, part with his tribe in Mesopotamia. In the wars of the Taghlibites with the Qaisites he took part in the field, as well as by his satires.
In the literary strife between his contemporaries Jarir ibn Atiyah and Farazdaq, Akhtal was induced to support the latter poet. Akhtal, Jarir and Farazdaq form a trio celebrated among the Arabs, but as to superiority there is dispute. Abu ʿUbaidah placed him highest of the three on the ground that among his poems there were ten flawless qasidas, and ten more nearly so, and that this could not be said of the other two.
The Poetry of al-Akhtal has been published at the Jesuit press in Beirūt, 1891. A full account of the poet and his times is given in H. Lammens’ Le chantre des Omiades (Paris, 1895) (a reprint from the Journal Asiatique for 1894).