The Iron Age Moral Code

The three adjectives – “genrous, handsome, brave” – used to describe the murdered man are a summation of the Iron Age moral code, a code that shines out clearly in all early literature (whether Gilgamesh, the Iliad, or the Tain) and that mysteriously survived in Ireland long after its oblivion in more sophisticated civilizations – and that endures to some extent even to this day… But there is also an unnamed virtue, hidden in these trinities: loyalty or faithfulness… In the heroic eras of various societies, including Ireland’s, loyalty served as the foundation virtue.

Cahill, How the Irish Saved Civilization, pp. 94-95

Loyalty above all. Generosity, beauty, and bravery as worthy of poetry and song. Sounds an awful lot like the traditional values of my Central Asian friends, though clothed now in an Islamic veneer. It seems to have hung on at the fringes of empires, protected by hard-to-reach places like islands, mountains, and deserts.

Photo by Ricardo Cruz on Unsplash

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