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Hammurabi’s Code: Was It Just?

Essay by   •  May 16, 2018  •  Essay  •  789 Words (4 Pages)  •  1,076 Views

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Hammurabi’s Code: Was it Just?

Hammurabi’s code of law was one of the first sets of laws with punishments. It was written on a large stele that's over eight feet tall. It consist of 282 laws that are put together by theme. The laws vary from family matters to theft and the punishments vary based on many things.There is also a prologue and epilogue meant to explain certain things to other rulers, like why they have to use these laws. Hammurabi claimed that his code was made to protect the weak, but when you look at them they aren't just. They cater to the strong in a way, protecting them more than anything. Laws 195, 209, 213, 218, 199, 196, and 215 are good examples of the bias based on class. Hammurabi's code wasn't just, instead of protecting the weak it cradled the strong.

Now it is obvious that many of these laws cater more to the strong. Laws 195 and 209 are good examples of that. Law 185 states that if a son struck his father his hands would be cute off. Law 209 states that if man struck the daughter of a free man and made her lose the fruit if her womb he shall pay ten shells of silver. If Hammurabi claims to want to protect the weak then why is the father more protected than the pregnant daughter of a free man. A woman and the child she is carrying would me the weak, but the man who made her lose her child just has to pay. While if a son hits his father he shall lose his hands. The weak isn't protected here and it's also a good example of how status changes the situation.

Status changes many of the laws. Well more the punishments change with status. Laws 196 and 199 are very similar, but the victim and punishments are very different. Law 196 says if a man has knocked out the eye of a free man then his eyes shall be knocked out. On law 199 if the man has knocked out the eyes of a slave then the accused shall pay half the slaves value. This law literally is almost saying that a slave is no more than an amount. While the free man gets an eye for an eye. Status had completely changed the same situation.

Now to add, those with status would be the strong and lower classes would be weaker because they have no power. Hammurabi isn't protecting the lower class. Let's take Law 209 again and put it next to law 213. There is a clear difference based on status in them. Once again, law 209 says that if a man struck the daughter of a free man and she lose the fruit of her womb he will pay ten

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