Of the Catte (nesshe & sosfte)

The catte is a beste yt seeth sharpe and she byteth sore

and scratcheth right perylously

& is principall ennemye to rattis & myce

& her colour is of a nature graye

and the cause yt they be other wyse colowred that comethe through chaunge of mete as it is well marked by the house catte for they be selden colored lyke the wylde tatte & their flesshe is bothe nesshe & sosfte


The mouse hunter or catte is an onclene besste & poyson ennemy to all myse

and whan she hath goten she playeth therwith

but yet she eteth it

& ye catte hath loge here on her mouthe

and whan her heres be gone than she no boldnes

and she is gladii in a warme place

and she licketh her forefere & wassheth therwith har face


The noble lyfe and natures of man of bestes, serpentys, fowles and fisshes that be moste knoweu, 1527





The Blood Drinker

“His sons, his brothers, and his relatives by marriage, the members of his kindred and his soldiers were united.”


Hittite proclamation of King Telepinus.

Calvert Watkins associates it with the idea of a king as just ruler. His interest here is in the dragon slayer myth which he views as ” a symbolic victory over the forces of chaos”. Chaos  is identified as “anti-social, anti- traditional, anti-hierarchical that is in violation of the fundamental institutionalized gift-exchange relations and consecrated customs which are alliance and blood kinship, symbolized by hospitality.”

The idea of social order evoked by King Telepinus is rather interesting in regard to the legal code on how to become a wolf in the Hittite law codes, as marriage abduction is the road that leads to going a howling.

If this bilateral arrangement through marriage is important in Hittite society, particularly in regard to making up the members of the kindred active in warfare.

I would drink a drink in spite of my kinsfolk; not of the red wine of Spain but the blood of youre body to me, a better drink” (1)

The wolf would stand outside of that order and threaten the good order of the kindred and the relations made here by marriage. If he could win over such relations to become part of his own kin, he would be a particularly scary beast to the clan that has now just lost a vital part of itself.

Calvert Watkins is keen to present Hittite society in comparison with later Irish society, so not going to accept this on face value. It is rather interesting though.


An early modern Gaelic lament of a wife to her husband, which hints at the political complexity of kin dispute in clan based systems where marriage is a vital component. i.e. it can break core family/ political relationships and end up in a very messy, bitter and complex dispute.

The relationship between kin and enemy, good order and chaos, is a fine one. One thing can easily be found in the other. To go a howling is forever an option in a world as socially fluid as this.


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.


 Bronze, Women breast feeding baby, Horoztepe, bornze age, Turkey


Reconstructed Anatolian bronze sistrum, Horoztepe, Turkey


Dominium (The Fundamental Right To A Thing)

“Another problem about property concerned the Golden Age, the state of Nature, Eden, the era of the Rawlsian “veil of ignorance” or whatever one called that period in remote antiquity when humanity had not yet parceled out the goods of this world as private property. Opinions differed about whether or not a right to private property existed in this deep past. Perhaps in the original explained, natural law was the first way people acquired things. But then their own law regulated what rights people had over these acquired things, and them how they transferred these things among themselves or to future generations. A great insight of Roman lawyers was that possession of something did not necessarily imply ownership, in their words “dominium,” the fundamental right to a thing. A general principle guided students through this difficult matter, and we would be wise to follow the example. The principle is: “Where something has no owner, it is reasonable that the person who takes it should have it”. The context for understanding this principle was the human right to wild animals, who were ownerless and there for the taking. This example confirms our suspicion that the common law we share with animals embodies a clear hierarchy and subordination, given that animals or swarms of bees do not take us.”


S.A. Epstein, The Medieval Discovery of Nature