For Great Justice

We’re all familiar with the depiction of Justice as a blindfolded woman holding scales.

As with a lot of anthropomorphic personifications, this image largely derives from Greco-Roman mythology, but from a few different deities. The first relevant goddess is Themis, who personifies divine justice and natural order, rather than man-made law.

She also had prophetic powers, and was either the original oracle at Delphi or the successor to Gaia in that position, giving it over to Apollo later on. Themis was a daughter of Gaia and Ouranos and a consort of Zeus, by whom she bore several children, including Dike, Eirene, and Eunomia.

Dike was also a goddess of justice, but in the sense of social and political order.

There are apparently pictures of her beating the crap out of her counterpart Adikia, goddess of injustice. She’s also the one who originally held the scales.

Eirene is the goddess of peace, and Eunomia of order and legislation. There was also a goddess named Astraea who personified justice, and was sometimes considered an alternate name for Dike. Astraea’s story is that she originally lived on Earth, but moved to the sky during the lawless Bronze Age, and became the constellation Virgo. The Roman goddess Justitia is roughly equivalent to Dike, and is depicted with both scales and sword. The blindfold, and the whole idea of Justice being blind, is a more recent development. Some sites suggest that the Romans sometimes used the blindfold, but the general consensus seems to be that it wasn’t common in depictions of the lady until the fifteenth century. The blindfold probably actually comes from depictions of a different Roman goddess, Fortuna.

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2 Responses to For Great Justice

  1. Pingback: Post of the Hours | VoVatia

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