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Since the advent of civilization, a code law has been implemented to ensure peace among citizens and instruct those in power. This is the process of justice, which is represented throughout court systems in the form of artistic symbolism. One of the most well-known icons of justice is the statue of Lady Justice. This statue relays the importance of law throughout history from antiquity to today’s judicial system.
Origins of Lady Justice
The statue commonly seen on courthouses today originated from 3 ancient cultures: Egyptian, Greek, and Roman. All three societies relied on the judgment of gods and goddess, so it is not surprising that each era had its own goddess that warranted justice, truth, fairness, and balance. In Egypt, the goddess Maat decided who was worthy of eternal life after death by judging their heart’s weight against her own. In Greece, the goddess Themis judged the other gods as her daughter, Dike, evaluated humans. The Romans combined both Greek goddesses into one goddess of justice, Justitia.
Scales as the Symbol of Justice
In all depictions of Lady Justice, there is a scale present in the hands of the statue. The scale is essential for a fair judgment, giving everyone the same benefit of the doubt. Everyone is innocent until proven guilty, so the scale remains level until there is proof of good and bad deeds. The impartiality of the scale needs to be present in order to properly distribute justice.
Other Symbols of Justice
Today’s court system portrays many other noticeable historical icons representing justice. The book of law, tablets of law, or scrolls of law all have ancient origins as laws had to be set in stone or at least in writing to be official. This made laws consistent and easier to determine punishments without continuous alterations. In the American court system, the gavel is a symbol of the authority used to distribute justice. It is used to finalize decisions and to show the power behind the decision.
Justice used to be determined by the will of gods and goddesses, but in modern societies, it has morphed into a system of judgment by those elected into power. The difficulty in providing justice is to ensure that a balance of power is instructed by the will of the people. A perfect counterpart to justice must be democracy in order to level the scales of the law.
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