Mythic origins of moral evil

Moral fatalism and the tragic self-conception of the Mekeo

Alan Jones*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)


The author documents and interprets versions of key Mekeo myths that tell of the origins of moral evil, suggesting that, where such myths exist, they may be seen as evidence of an evolving moral consciousness in which subjective awareness of guilt begins to displace feelings of shame and loss of face. He identifies the components of a complex socio-moral order with two distinct types of moral behaviour, a semi- institutionalised anti-morality, and two largely implicit principles of action that inform everyday actions and transactions. The author shows how these various components are grounded in the personalities, actions and interactions of mythic personages.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)333-371
Number of pages39
JournalJournal of the Polynesian Society
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Mekeo myths
  • Moral awareness
  • Moral fatalism
  • Self-conception

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