To go a Wolfing (What Kind of Thing?)

– tak-ku MUNUS-an ku-is-ki pit-te-nu-uz-zi EGIR-an-da-ma-as-ma-as sar-di-ya-as pa-iz-zi tak-ku 2 LÚMEŠ na-as-ma 3 LÚMEŠ ak-kan-zi sar-ni-ik-zi-il NU.GÁL zi-ik-wa UR.BARRA ki-sa-at

If someone abducts a woman and a (group of) helper(s) goes after them, if two or three men are killed, there is no restitution: ‘You have become a wolf.’

Hittite law code, one of the oldest references to the wolf as an outlaw. I can’t retrospectively place later concepts into this material i.e. this wolf has taken a captive, which does not appear particularly wolf- like (I don’t yet know how the Hittite’s viewed nature or the nature of wolves).

I also have one further retrospective element ‘you have become a wolf’ as ‘you leave nothing for the morning.’ The wolf as destroyer.

While I can’t retrospectively place these later aspects back in time, I can ask some tentative questions and look more fully at Hittite culture to resolve them.

Who is the victim here and what has been destroyed?

I suspect its not the bride but the clan and it is honor that the wolf has ravaged.

When we get round to looking at Hesiod’s philosophical claim that justice is a defining characteristic of humanity as opposed to animals.

Do we have a relationship between philosophy, law and folk belief here, concerning the classification of things?

Working out what the focus of the law here is important. If the focus is collective rather than individual, it suggests a possible explanation of why the inflection may alter over- time.

Focus on the female as victim or sinner would make all the difference. Animal would shift from destroyer to captive keeper (unnatural act not covered by natural law, it requires a law of human invention).


“if two or three men are killed, there is no restitution.” I presume these are the ‘wolf’s’ helpers i.e. no compensation or legal claim can be made on death, no justified basis for vengeance.

Also need to find out if the free status/ legal status is linked to property ownership here. My guess would be that in this case the clan responsable for the abduction could face a high cost and potential ruin is a long running dispute, with no possibility of compensation for injury or death on its own side, which may add further to the cost.

That would be a retrospective comparative view. What the actual situation is in this culture remains to be seen.

p.s for some reason the spell check recognizes some ancient hittite terms (apprently).

pit-te-nu-uz-zi EGIR-an-da-ma-as-ma-as, it has problems with and gives me two options, ignore suggestion, ignore always. Not sure if this is a spelling suggestion or if the A.I. has advanced here to give historical advice.


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