The Evolution of the Effigy of Justice

As one major role of law in society is to uphold justice, the significance of the effigy of justice would mean to symbolise justice itself, its meaning and what it represents in the society today. As seen in many courts and judicial premises, Faculties or law and every point that there is a heavy presence of legally inclined individuals, the effigy has its history, meaning and representation in the society.

effigy of justice

By origin, the goddess of Justice evolved to be the present day statue called the ''effigy''. History accounts in ancient Egypt, Greek and Roman records have slight relationship to its existence.

In Ancient Egypt, the lady of Justice was called ''Ma'at''. She is depicted by a lady with a sword and an Ostrich feather in her hair. In this account, she carries no scales, symbolizing the truth and justice. The term ''magistrate'' is derived from ''Ma'at'' because she assisted Osris in the judgement of the dead by weighing their hearts. Osiris was the Ancient Egyptian god of the dead and  resurrection into eternal life. He was the ruler, protector, and judge of the deceased.

To Ancient Greeks, the lady of Justice was referred to as Themis, meaning ''order''.

She originally organized communal affairs of humans and the talent of prophecy and foresight into the future. She soon became an oracle at Delphi. In the Greek classical representation, she is represented as an effigy without blindfolds. They believed that there was no need for blindfolds because of her prophecy and foresight. She also did not hold swords because Greeks believed in common consent and not coercion.

For Rome, the Romanian order calls the goddess of Justice, ''Justitia'', also meaning justice. She is portrayed as evenly balancing both scales with a sword and blindfold. She sometimes carried a fasces (a bundle of rods around an axe to symbolise judicial authority) in one hand and a flame in another to represent truth.

In analysis, Ma'at represents truth, balance and order while Themis represents wisdom and good advice. Justitia also represents virtue, prudence, fortitude and temperance. By these, the personality of the effigy as a woman is due to the story from earlier civilisations where they had to fight hard for civl rights. In this search, feminism and other schools that preached proper representation were birthed.

As an allegorical representation of the moral force in the judicial system, the effigy has its Scales of Justice.  These weight scales are just as useful in law as they are in commerce to weigh goods and determine sizes. The scale is seated at the left hand of the effigy to weigh evidence, the truth and lie. This is to help determine decisions and is significant in validating the ratio-decidendi in any case.

A blind man sees nothing. He is just as a man with a blindfold around his eyes. The effigy also has a blindfold running through to cover her eyes. This signifies objectivity in judgement, meted out without fear or favour and the absence of impartiality in judgement. However, just as sharp as every other sense, the insight is necessary (though the eyes are blindfolded) in every matter. This simply means that the blindfold (impartiality) should not make the judge blind (impair) justice by denying insight and a proper look in any case.

The Sword on another hand is an instrument used in war. Held by the right hand of the lady of Justice, it signifies punishment, coercion and correction. These are backings of the law. In war, the sword crushes any opposition as long as the bearer skillfully pilots it. In the same sense, the sword of Justice crushes any form of injustice.

Also, Lady Justitia’s bare feet shows the humility that is intrinsic to the legal profession. On proper observation, her feet are without shoes to properly depict humility. This is why it is a general believe that lawyers are not proud but noble.

Another feature is the woman. By metamorphosis, a young lady grows into a woman. The feminine nature is known to be represented with utmost care. The lady of Justice signifies care towards anyone who seeks redress and proper address in the court. She tries to show that the court will always provide solace when one’s rights are breached in any case and particularly show that justice will always take its course.

Lady Justitia’s pouch is found at the back of the figure of the effigy. The pouch has two significances as put. Some schools of thought believe that it represents the entitlements of the lawyer in a case while others believe it to be the knowledge and reasoning of a lawyer in the case.

The white flowing robe is another feature of the effigy of Justice that signifies transparency and righteousness in any cause. White symbolizes purity and righteousness in justice and as such, judgment must carry these two principles. The white robe is also a flowing one to signify continuity in upholding justice which is the cause of the law.

The crown is the last feature of the effigy. Sitting on the head of the lady of Justice, it portrays the supremacy of the law and that everyone is subdued by it. It shows the essence of the rule of law and it taking due course in any case of arbitration.

In total relevance, the effigy of Justice has contributed in no mean measure to the development of the legal society, interpreting in its own way, the essence of law.

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