In the hands of the poets the epithalamium was developed into a special literary form, and received considerable cultivation. Sappho, Anacreon, Stesichorus and Pindar are all regarded as masters of the species, but the finest example preserved in Greek literature is the 18th Idyll of Theocritus, which celebrates the marriage of Menelaus and Helen. In Latin, the epithalamium, imitated from Fescennine Greek models, was a base form of literature, when Catullus redeemed it and gave it dignity by modelling his Marriage of Thetis and Peleus on a lost ode of Sappho.
In later times Statius, Ausonius, Sidonius Apollinaris and Claudian are the authors of the best-known epithalamia in classical Latin; and they have been imitated by James Buchanan, Julius Caesar Scaliger, Jacopo Sannazaro, and a whole host of modern Latin poets, with whom, indeed, the form was at one time in great favor.
The names of Ronsard, Malherbe and Scarron are especially associated with the genre in French literature, and d'Iarini and Metastasio in Italian. Perhaps no poem of this class has been more universally admired than the pastoral Epithalamium of Edmund Spenser (1595), though he also has important rivals - Ben Jonson, Donne and Francis Quarles. Ben Jonson's friend, Sir John Suckling, is known for his epithalamium "A Ballad Upon a Wedding." In his ballad, Suckling playfully demystifies the usual celebration of marriage by detailing comic rustic parallels and identifying sex as the great leveler.
E. E. Cummings also returns to the form in his poem Epithalamion, which appears in his 1923 book Tulips and Chimneys. E.E.Cummings' Epithalamion consists of three seven octave parts, and includes numerous references to ancient Greece.