Liberating Moral Traditions: Saga Morality and Aristotle‘s Megalopsychia

Kristjánsson, Kristján
December 1998
Ethical Theory & Moral Practice;Dec1998, Vol. 1 Issue 4, p397
Academic Journal
It is a matter for both surprise and disappointment that so little has been written from a philosophical perspective about the moral tradition enshrined in Europe‘s oldest living literature, the Icelandic sagas. The main purpose of the present essay is to start to ameliorate this shortcoming by analysing and assessing the moral code bequeathed to us by the saga literature. To do so, I draw attention to the striking similarities between saga morality and what tends to be called an ‘ancient moral outlook‘ (with special reference to Aristotle‘s much-maligned virtue of megalopsychia) and then try to defend the credentials of both outlooks in so far as they clash, or seem to clash, with certain aspects of a ‘modern moral outlook.‘


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