Hammurabi's Code of Law

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Hammurabi's Code of Law

Postby Quintus Aurelius Orcus on Thu Jun 24, 2004 2:38 pm

Salvete

I found on a website: Sacred Texts, a copy of Hammurabi's Code of Law. I think we can post it here, but ihave to ask to make sure, since it is a htm file and there could be some problems with it. I did just finish a essay on the code without the actual laws and prayers itself. So i think i can post it here. Normally the laws can be posted on our site so long as people don't have to pay for it, to read it.
I shall post the essay tonight and sent a copy to the Aedilles to look at before they put it on the site, to get rid of any errors in writing

valete

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Postby Quintus Aurelius Orcus on Thu Jun 24, 2004 8:59 pm

Salvete

Here's my essay on Hammurabi(s Code of Law.
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Hammurabi’s Code of Law

Hammurabi’s Code of Law was in a way revolutionary. He was one of the first kings to establish a law in his kingdom. He has put these laws onto a large stone in a public square where everyone could see and read them. Most cultures may have based their judicial system on Hammurabi’s. He changed everything. Tribal laws didn’t count as a real law anymore, or it didn’t have that much to say anymore. Hammurabi begins with a prayer to the Gods and ends with one too, but it is not so much a prayer, but also a curse. He cursed anyone who broke these laws. Hammurabi was the ruler who chiefly established the greatness of Babylon,
the world's first metropolis. Many relics of Hammurabi's reign ([1795-1750 BC])
have been preserved, and today we can study this remarkable King as a wise
law-giver in his celebrated code. Hammurabi arranged his laws in groups so that all men could read them and knew what was required of them. The code itself was carved upon a black stone monument which was eight feet high. It was clear that this stone monument was for the people. This stone was recovered in 1901 not in Babylon, but in a city in the Persian mountains where a conqueror has carried it to in triumph.
The code regulates in clear and definite strokes the organization of society. A judge who blunders in a law case is to expelled from judgeship forever and heavily fined. A witness who gives a false testify is to be killed. All heavy crimes are punishable with death. Even if a man builds a house badly and it kills the owner when it falls down, is to be killed. Was the son of the owner killed, than the son of the builder is to be killed. Here the Jews might have get their “an eye for an eye” law. There was a way to escape death. The accuser could cast himself into the river Euphrates. Here we see a similar thing like during the witch hunt. If he floats, he’s innocent, if he drowns, he’s guilty. Apparently the art of swimming was unknown so in most cases, the accuser was found guilty. The code is harsh and does not take into account any excuses or explanations. Before I continue, I must say that this is only a summary of the Code.
So we learn that faith in the justice of the ruling gods
was already firmly, though somewhat childishly, established in the minds of men.
Yet even with this earliest set of laws, as with most things Babylonian, we find
ourselves dealing with the end of things rather than the beginnings. Hammurabi's
code was not really the earliest. The preceding sets of laws have disappeared,
but there are several traces of them found, and Hammurabi's own code clearly
implies their existence. He is only reorganizing a legal system long established.
The material for the study of Babylonian law is singularly extensive without
being exhaustive. The so-called "contracts," including a great variety of deeds,
conveyances, bonds, receipts, accounts and, most important of all, the actual
legal decisions given by the judges in the law courts, exist in thousands.
Historical inscriptions, royal charters and rescripts, despatches, private
letters and the general literature afford welcome supplementary information.
Even grammatical and lexicographical works, intended solely to facilitate the
study of ancient literature, contain many extracts or short sentences bearing on
law and custom. The so-called "Sumerian Family Laws" are thus preserved. The
discovery of the now celebrated Code of Hammurabi (hereinafter simply termed the
Code) has, however, made a more systematic study possible than could have
resulted from the classification and interpretation of the other material. Some
fragments of a later code exist and have been published; but there still remain
many points upon which we have no evidence.
he fragments of it which have been recovered from Assur-bani-pal's library at Nineveh and later Babylonian copies show that it was studied, divided into chapters entitled Ninu ilu sirum from its opening words, and recopied for fifteen hundred years or more. The greater part of It remained in force, even through the Persian, Greek and Parthian conquests, which affected
private life in Babylonia very little, and it survived to influence Syro-Roman
and later Mahommedan law in Mesopotamia. The law and custom which preceded the
Code we shall call "early," that of the New Babylonian empire (as well as the
Persian, Greek, &c.) "late." The law in Assyria was derived from Babylonia but
conserved early features long after they had disappeared elsewhere.
When the Semitic tribes settled in the cities of Babylonia, their tribal custom
passed over into city law. The early history of the country is the story of a
struggle for supremacy between the cities. A metropolis demanded tribute and
military support from its subject cities but left their local cults and customs
unaffected. The city rights and usage’s were respected by kings and conquerors
alike. As late as the accession of Assur-bani-pal and Samas-sum-yukin we find the
Babylonians appealing to their city laws that groups of aliens to the number of
twenty at a time were free to enter the city, that foreign women once married to
Babylonian husbands could not be enslaved and that not even a dog that entered
the city could be put to death untried.
The population of Babylonia was of many races from early times and
intercommunication between the cities was incessant. Every city had a large
number of resident aliens. This freedom of intercourse must have tended to
assimilate custom. It was, however, reserved for the genius of Hammurabi to make
Babylon his metropolis and weld together his vast empire by a uniform system of
law. Here’s what Encyclopedia Britannica says on the Code of Hammurabi:
The Code did not merely embody contemporary custom or conserve ancient law. It
is true that centuries of law-abiding and litigious habitude had accumulated in
the temple archives of each city vast stores of precedent in ancient deeds and
the records of judicial decisions, and that intercourse had assimilated city
custom. The universal habit of writing and perpetual recourse to written
contract even more modified primitive custom and ancient precedent. Provided the
parties could agree, the Code left them free to contract as a rule. Their deed
of agreement was drawn up in the temple by a notary public, and confirmed by an
oath "by god and the king." It was publicly sealed and witnessed by professional
witnesses, as well as by collateral interested parties. The manner in which it
was thus executed may have been sufficient security that its stipulations were
not impious or illegal. Custom or public opinion doubtless secured that the
parties would not agree to wrong. In case of dispute the judges dealt first with
the contract. They might not sustain it, but if the parties did not dispute it,
they were free to observe it. The judges' decision might, however, be appealed
against. Many contracts contain the proviso that in case of future dispute the
parties would abide by "the decision of the king." The Code made known, in a
vast number of cases, what that decision would be, and many cases of appeal to
the king were sent back to the judges with orders to decide in accordance with
it. The Code itself was carefully and logically arranged and the order of its
sections was conditioned by their subject-matter. Nevertheless the order is not
that of modern scientific treatises, and a somewhat different order from both is
most convenient for our purpose.
The Code contemplates the whole population as falling into three classes, the
amelu, the muskinu and the ardu. The amelu was a patrician, the man of family,
whose birth, marriage and death were registered, of ancestral estates and full
civil rights. He had aristocratic privileges and responsibilities, the right to
exact retaliation for corporal injuries, and liability to heavier punishment for
crimes and misdemeanors, higher fees and fines to pay. To this class belonged
the king and court, the higher officials, the professions and craftsmen. The
term became in time a mere courtesy title but originally carried with it
standing. Already in the Code, when status is not concerned, it is used to
denote "any one." There was no property qualification nor does the term appear
to be racial. It is most difficult to characterize the muskinu exactly. The term
came in time to mean "a beggar" and with that meaning has passed through Aramaic
and Hebrew into many modern languages; but though the Code does not regard him
as necessarily poor, he may have been landless. He was free, but had to accept
monetary compensation for corporal injuries, paid smaller fees and fines, even
paid less offerings to the gods. He inhabited a separate quarter of the city.
There is no reason to regard him as specially connected with the court, as a
royal pensioner, nor as forming the bulk of the population. The rarity of any
reference to him in contemporary documents makes further specification
conjectural. The ardu was a slave, his master's chattel, and formed a very
numerous class. He could acquire property and even hold other slaves. His master
clothed and fed him, paid his doctor's fees, but took all compensation paid for
injury done to him. His master usually found him a slave-girl as wife (the
children were then born slaves), often set him up in a house (with farm or
business) and simply took an annual rent of him. Otherwise he might marry a
free woman (the children were then free), who might bring him a dower which his
master could not touch, and at his death one-half of his property passed to his
master as his heir. He could acquire his freedom by purchase from his master, or
might be freed and dedicated to a temple, or even adopted, when he became an
amelu and not a muskinu. Slaves were recruited by purchase abroad, from captives
taken in war and by freemen degraded for debt or crime. A slave often ran away;
if caught, the captor was bound to restore him to his master, and the Code fixes
a reward of two shekels which the owner must pay the captor. It was about
one-tenth of the average value. To detain, harbour, &c., a slave was punished by
death. So was an attempt to get him to leave the city. A slave bore an
identification mark, which could only be removed by a surgical operation and
which later consisted of his owner's name tattooed or branded on the arm. On the
great estates in Assyria and its subject provinces were many serfs, mostly of
subject race, settled captives, or quondam slaves, tied to the soil they
cultivated and sold with the estate but capable of possessing land and property
of their own. There is little trace of serfs in Babylonia, unless the muskinu be
really a serf.
The god of a city was originally owner of its land, which encircled it with an
inner ring of irrigable arable land and an outer fringe of pasture, and the
citizens were his tenants. The god and his viceregent, the king, had long ceased
to disturb tenancy, and were content with fixed dues in naturalia, stock, money
or service. One of the earliest monuments records the purchase by a king of a
large estate for his son, paying a fair market price and adding a handsome
honorarium to the many owners in costly garments, plate, and precious articles
of furniture. The Code recognizes complete private ownership in land, but
apparently extends the right to hold land to votaries, merchants (and resident
aliens?). But all land was sold subject to its fixed charges. The king, however,
could free land from these charges by charter, which was a frequent way of
rewarding those who deserved well of the state. It is from these charters that
we learn nearly all we know of the obligations that lay upon land. The letters of Hammurabi often deal with claims to exemption.
Religious officials and shepherds in charge of flocks were exempt. Special
liabilities lay upon riparian owners to repair canals, bridges, quays, &c. The
state claimed certain proportions of all crops, stock, &c. The king's messengers
could commandeer any subject's property, giving a receipt. Further, every city
had its own octroi duties, customs, ferry dues, highway and water rates. The
king had long ceased to be, if he ever was, owner of the land. He had his own
royal estates, his private property and dues from all his subjects. The higher
officials had endowments and official residences. The Code regulates the feudal
position of certain classes. They held an estate from the king consisting of
house, garden, field, stock and a salary, on condition of personal service on
the king's errand. They could not delegate the service on pain of death. When
ordered abroad they could nominate a son, if capable, to hold the benefice and
carry on the duty. If there was no son capable, the state put in a locum tenens,
but granted one-third to the wife to maintain herself and children. The benefice
was inalienable, could not be sold, pledged, exchanged, sublet, devised or
diminished. Other land was held of the state for rent. Ancestral estate was
strictly tied to the family. If a holder would sell, the family had the right of
redemption and there seems to have been no time-limit to its exercise.
The temple occupied a most important position. It received from its estates,
from tithes and other fixed dues, as well as from the sacrifices (a customary
share) and other offerings of the faithful, vast amounts of all sorts of
naturalia; besides money and permanent gifts. The larger temples had many
officials and servants. Originally, perhaps, each town clustered round one
temple, and each head of a family had a right to minister there and share its
receipts. As the city grew, the right to so many days a year at one or other
shrine (or its "gate") descended in certain families and became a species of
property which could be pledged, rented or shared within the family, but not
alienated. In spite of all these demands, however, the temples became great
granaries and store-houses; as they also were the city archives. The temple held
its responsibilities. If a citizen was captured by the enemy and could not
ransom himself the temple of his city must do so. To the temple came the poor
farmer to borrow seed corn or supplies for harvesters, &c.--advances which he
repaid without interest. The king's power over the temple was not proprietary
but administrative. He might borrow from it but repaid like other borrowers. The
tithe seems to have been the composition for the rent due to the god for his
land. It is not clear that all lands paid tithe, perhaps only such as once had a
special connection with the temple.
The Code deals with a class of persons devoted to the service of a god, as
vestals or hierodules. The vestals were vowed to chastity, lived together in a
great nunnery, were forbidden to open or enter a tavern, and together with other
votaries had many privileges. For more on it, look the summary up from Encyclopedia Britannica. So one might ask himself where are the laws where Hammurabi based his on. He might have a vision on how to organize his state, the original laws were probably lost to the ages. Its a shame that they were lost, we could have learned more from them. But this does not mean that we can’t learn anything from Hammurabi’s code.

Sources:
Sacred Texts website: http://www.sacred-texts.com/
Encyclopedia Britannica.
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Hammurabi's Code of Law preamble

Postby Quintus Aurelius Orcus on Sun Jun 27, 2004 10:32 pm

Salvete

I shall post the laws of Hammurabi here piece by piece, starting with the prayer that opened the set of laws. It is not really so much a prayer but also a curse on anyone who breaks these laws. Hammurabi calls upon the king of the Gods, the other Babylonian deities to protect the rightous and the innocent. Hammurabi calls upon the Gods to curse those who break them. He just doesn't seem to call upon all the Gods, especially those who are the protecter deities of Babylon.
These texts were translated by L.W. King.
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When Anu the Sublime, King of the Anunaki, and Bel, the lord of Heaven and earth, who decreed the fate of the land, assigned to Marduk, the over-ruling son of Ea, God of righteousness, dominion over earthly man, and made him great among the Igigi, they called Babylon by his illustrious name, made it great on earth, and founded an everlasting kingdom in it, whose foundations are laid so solidly as those of heaven and earth; then Anu and Bel called by name me, Hammurabi, the exalted prince, who feared God, to bring about the rule of righteousness in the land, to destroy the wicked and the evil-doers; so that the strong should not harm the weak; so that I should rule over the black-headed people like Shamash, and enlighten the land, to further the well-being of mankind.

Hammurabi, the prince, called of Bel am I, making riches and increase, enriching Nippur and Dur-ilu beyond compare, sublime patron of E-kur; who reestablished Eridu and purified the worship of E-apsu; who conquered the four quarters of the world, made great the name of Babylon, rejoiced the heart of Marduk, his lord who daily pays his devotions in Saggil; the royal scion whom Sin made; who enriched Ur; the humble, the reverent, who brings wealth to Gish-shir-gal; the white king, heard of Shamash, the mighty, who again laid the foundations of Sippara; who clothed the gravestones of Malkat with green; who made E-babbar great, which is like the heavens, the warrior who guarded Larsa and renewed E-babbar, with Shamash as his helper; the lord who granted new life to Uruk, who brought plenteous water to its inhabitants, raised the head of E-anna, and perfected the beauty of Anu and Nana; shield of the land, who reunited the scattered inhabitants of Isin; who richly endowed E-gal-mach; the protecting king of the city, brother of the god Zamama; who firmly founded the farms of Kish, crowned E-me-te-ursag with glory, redoubled the great holy treasures of Nana, managed the temple of Harsag-kalama; the grave of the enemy, whose help brought about the victory; who increased the power of Cuthah; made all glorious in E-shidlam, the black steer, who gored the enemy; beloved of the god Nebo, who rejoiced the inhabitants of Borsippa, the Sublime; who is indefatigable for E-zida; the divine king of the city; the White, Wise; who broadened the fields of Dilbat, who heaped up the harvests for Urash; the Mighty, the lord to whom come scepter and crown, with which he clothes himself; the Elect of Ma-ma; who fixed the temple bounds of Kesh, who made rich the holy feasts of Nin-tu; the provident, solicitous, who provided food and drink for Lagash and Girsu, who provided large sacrificial offerings for the temple of Ningirsu; who captured the enemy, the Elect of the oracle who fulfilled the prediction of Hallab, who rejoiced the heart of Anunit; the pure prince, whose prayer is accepted by Adad; who satisfied the heart of Adad, the warrior, in Karkar, who restored the vessels for worship in E-ud-gal-gal; the king who granted life to the city of Adab; the guide of E-mach; the princely king of the city, the irresistible warrior, who granted life to the inhabitants of Mashkanshabri, and brought abundance to the temple of Shidlam; the White, Potent, who penetrated the secret cave of the bandits, saved the inhabitants of Malka from misfortune, and fixed their home fast in wealth; who established pure sacrificial gifts for Ea and Dam-gal-nun-na, who made his kingdom everlastingly great; the princely king of the city, who subjected the districts on the Ud-kib-nun-na Canal to the sway of Dagon, his Creator; who spared the inhabitants of Mera and Tutul; the sublime prince, who makes the face of Ninni shine; who presents holy meals to the divinity of Nin-a-zu, who cared for its inhabitants in their need, provided a portion for them in Babylon in peace; the shepherd of the oppressed and of the slaves; whose deeds find favor before Anunit, who provided for Anunit in the temple of Dumash in the suburb of Agade; who recognizes the right, who rules by law; who gave back to the city of Ashur its protecting god; who let the name of Ishtar of Nineveh remain in E-mish-mish; the Sublime, who humbles himself before the great gods; successor of Sumula-il; the mighty son of Sin-muballit; the royal scion of Eternity; the mighty monarch, the sun of Babylon, whose rays shed light over the land of Sumer and Akkad; the king, obeyed by the four quarters of the world; Beloved of Ninni, am I.

When Marduk sent me to rule over men, to give the protection of right to the land, I did right and righteousness in . . . , and brought about the well-being of the oppressed.
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