Social Justice in the Ancient World

By K. D. Irani; Morris Silver | Go to book overview
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3 minas of copper are (priced) at 1 shekel of silver

2 minas of refined copper are (priced) at 1 shekel of silver

Text 6: From the Coronation Prayer of Assurbanipal

Source: Foster Benjamin R. ( 1993). Before the Muses: An Anthology of Akkadian Literature. Bethesda, Md.: CDL Press, 713-14.

. . . Just as grain and silver, oil, cattle, and salt (from the place called) Bariku are desirable, so too may the name of Assurbanipal, king of Assyria, be desirable to the gods . . . May the [resident] of Assur obtain 30 gur of grain for 1 shekel of silver, may the resident of Assur obtain 30 quarts of oil for 1 shekel of silver, may the [resident] of Assur obtain 30 minas of wool for 1 shekel of silver. May the [great] listen when the lesser speak, may the [lesser] listen when the great speak, may harmony and peace be established [in Assur].

Text 7: Reforms of a Neo-Babylonian King

Source: Foster, Before the Muses (see Text 6), 763-66.

. . . nor would he make a decision concerning them (the cripple or widow). They would eat each other like dogs. The strong would oppress the weak, while they had insufficient means to go to court for redress. The rich would take the belongings of the lowly. Neither governor nor prince would appear before the judge on behalf of the cripple or widow, they would come before the judges but they would not proceed with their case; a judge would accept a bribe or present and would not consider it (the case). They (the oppressors) would not receive an injunction (such as this): "The silver which you loaned at interest you have increased five-fold! You have forced households to be broken up, you have had fields and meadowland seized, families were living in front and back yards. You have taken in pledge servants, slaves, livestock, possessions, and property. Although you have had silver and interest in full, these (mortgaged properties) remain in your possession!" . . . For the sake of due process, he (the king) did not neglect truth and justice, nor did he rest day or night. He was always drawing up, with reasoned deliberation, cases and decisions pleasing to the great lord Marduk (and) framed for the benefit of all the people and the stability of Babylonia. He drew up improved regulations for the city, he rebuilt the law court . . .

Edzard 1976; for general discussion, see also Yaron 1993: 19-41.
Frayne 1989.
Adams 1981: 165; Weiss 1994.
Kraus 1971: 235-61.
Van de Mieroop 1992: 112-15.
Diakonoff 1982: 44-46.
Bottéro 1961: 113-64.
For the difficult matter of prices at this time, see Farber 1978; see also Snell 1982: 183-88.


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