Ancient Laws and Modern Problems: The Balance Between by John Sassoon

By John Sassoon

Provocatively juxtaposes written legislations from 4000 years in the past with cutting-edge.

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Yes, Atu . ’ He is trying to speak . . almost audible . . his grey, balding head is slowly shaking . . A strong face, intelligent eyes and a broad, humourous mouth . . his voice curiously high-pitched has a musical quality that conveys both clarity and authority . . his body seems slim rather than tall, and he is wearing a mantle draped around his shoulders. ’ ‘ . . Yes, I have . . I can perceive . . clearly that your world is different from mine and yet . . Can you hear what I am trying to say .

The use of law to enforce change in accordance with a predetermined philosophy lay nearly four thousand years in the future. Of our five collections of laws, the Sumerian fragment is a schoolboy’s exercise rather than a fragment of an entire collection, and the choice of laws may well reflect a schoolboy’s interests: of the ten laws copied two deal with causing a girl to miscarry, two with rape, three with rows between a son and his parents, one with losing a boat and two with a herdsman losing straying cattle.

Ur-Nammu, law 10) 49 ANCIENT LAWS AND MODERN PROBLEMS Sometimes, and Hammurabi has laws on this, the river test was itself used as a punishment: If [a wife] was not careful, but was a gadabout, thus neglecting her house and humiliating her husband, they shall throw that woman into the water. (Hammurabi, law 143) And Hammurabi who, for all his harshness, was not lacking in a sense of honour, also had this law: If the finger was pointed at the wife of a seignior because of another man, but she has not been caught while lying with the other man, she shall throw herself into the river for the sake of her husband.

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