Original Research - Special Collection: Morality in history

The conceptualisation of morality in ancient religions at the hand of the Gilgamesh Epic

Gerda de Villiers
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 45, No 1 | a2983 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v45i1.2983 | © 2024 Gerda de Villiers | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 01 September 2023 | Published: 05 April 2024

About the author(s)

Gerda de Villiers, Department of Biblical and Religious Studies, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa

Abstract

This article addressed ‘The conceptualisation of morality in ancient religions at the hand of the Gilgamesh Epic’. After pointing out that ancient languages do not have words for neither morality nor religion, I discussed the following incidents in the Epic: he who saw the Deep; the immoral conduct of a king; the slaying of Humbaba; Ishtar and a death penalty; and a visit to Utanapishtim, the Distant. I alluded briefly to the way that the Epic ends. The aim was to examine whether ancient societies had a concept of morality and what role, if any, did religion play.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: The conclusion was that religion played a very minor role, and that morality in ancient societies was a human endeavour.


Keywords

ancient; religions; Gilgamesh; Epic; morality.

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