The idea of justice strikes at the very heart of who we are as social beings. In its broadest sense, it is the idea of fairness, that people get what they deserve. In fact, humans are not the only beings that have a sense of justice. The expectation of justice is a natural outcome of the emotional capacity to feel empathy, and in complex social structures, a prerequisite for political stability. It is hardly surprising then, that it is at the core of all religions, philosophies, and societies. To Hindus and Buddhists, justice as a social reality and cosmic principle overlaps with the idea of dharma and is a central belief in their worldview. Among Abrahamic religions, it is seen as the word of God and exemplified by ideal lives of great men. The ancient Greeks and Romans, however, much like polytheistic Dharmic believers today, had a long tradition of personification of abstract concepts as deities.
Lady Justice, the personification of justice who graces Courts of law the world over, and also the Culture Kraze collection!
Today, the allegorical personification of justice as a woman, usually blindfolded and holding weighing scales in one hand and a sword in the other is near-universal, featuring everywhere from Canada to Japan. The roots of Lady Justice, however, like so much else lie in ancient Greece, although the Egyptians venerated Ma’at, an even earlier form of Lady Justice. In Greek mythology, Themis was one of the earliest deities, a Titaness born to Gaia, the personification of the Earth, and Ouranos, the sky. Her role, broadly speaking, was as an organizer of human social affairs, a natural backdrop for a Goddess of justice. Themis was one of the earliest of the Greek deities, and presided over rules of morality and propriety, giving humankind the first laws of justice and morality, including precepts of piety, rules of hospitality, good governance, the conduct of assemblies and offerings to be made to gods. Themis also happened to be the first occupant of the office of the Oracle at Delphi, a prophetic institution that was of central importance to Greek religious and political life.
However, influential as Themis was to the Greeks, she did not create the universality of Lady Justice as a symbol. In fact, for at least eight centuries, Themis was little known outside of the Greek world. Ultimately, Themis would merge with one of her daughters, Dike, in the popular imagination. But that process required the conquest of Greece by the Roman Republic, and its subsequent transformation into an empire with Gaius Octavius at its head. The newly proclaimed Roman Empire under Octavian was far larger than the Republic had been, stretching across the Mediterranean from the Iberian Peninsula to Anatolia and Egypt, and Octavian introduced far-reaching reforms into his new Empire. Part of these reforms included a revitalization of the incredibly syncretic Roman religion, characterized as it was by incorporation of local Gods from different parts of the Empire into the pantheon. It was Octavian who introduced Justitia, the equivalent of Dike, into the Roman pantheon. Roman emperors soon built a temple, minted coins, and built a throne, in her name and image, yet she was never very widely worshipped, but instead came to be seen as symbolic of the idea of justice, making monarchs the state eager to associate themselves with her.
Standing at nearly five feet tall and handcrafted to perfection, "magnificent" is truly the only word we have to describe this breathtaking statue, boasting a hand-applied two-tone sepia multidimensional sepia tone that is accentuated by a colour-washed emerald Verde patina and finished with a black marble museum mount base.
This association stuck, and perhaps due to the largely symbolic nature of Justitia, was accepted by the Roman Empire even after it had turned to monotheistic Christianity and its successor states. In fact, in most respects, Lady Justice has changed little from her early days in Rome. She continues to hold a sword, a symbol that has been variously called a representation of the power of justice, the ability to enforce it, and her scales continue to represent the value of evidence in the judicial process. However, perhaps the most iconic accessory in her arsenal, the blindfold, is actually a relatively recent introduction. In 1543, Hans Gieng built a statue of Lady Justice on the Gerechtigkeitsbrunnen (Fountain of Justice) in Berne, notable for the addition of a blindfold, representing impartiality in the eyes of the law, which soon became a standard part of her depiction. So, it turns out, Justice need not really be blind, but it probably does add that extra bit of gravitas!