In Colchis, a school of higher rhetoric was established where both Greeks and Georgians studied. The first Georgian literary canons dating back to the 5th Century CE are significant. This early Christian literature depicts the lives of the martyrs and saints and documents different treatises. By the 12th century, a large variety of expertise was disseminated by academies at Ikalto and Gelati, the first medieval higher education centres.
The national genius was most clearly seen in Vepkhistkaosani (The Knight in the Panther's Skin), a 12th-century masterpiece of poet Shota Rustaveli. Major figures in later Georgian literary history include Sulkhan-Saba Orbeliani, a prominent writer of the 18th century, and Ilia Chavchavadze, a statesman, novelist, poet, and dramatist.
The lyric poet Akaki Tsereteli, Alexander Kazbegi and nature poet Vazha-Pshavela were among other prominent pre-revolutionary writers. In the Stalin period, the writer Mikheil Javakhishvili and poet Titsian Tabidze were executed, and the government banned the poet Paolo Iashvili, who later committed suicide.