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On Themis our Lady Justice

August 9, 2015 Hastings and Hastings

Dating back thousands of years, Themis (Θέμις) or her Roman counterpart, Lustitia, adorned the courtrooms of ancient Greece and Rome. Not much has changed, with the exception of one addition to the stately sculpture of Themis, a blindfold.

Ancient Θέμις

Themis is typically depicted as a tall, imposing woman with a scale in her left hand and a sword in her right. The scales represent the balancing act that all courts undertake, weighing the evidence of the plaintiff and defense. The sword represents the power granted to the courts by civil society to enact punishment against transgressors of the pax romana. Indeed, these principles are still upheld in every legitimate court and remain cornerstones of the justice system and the legal profession. 

Blindfolding Themis 

Sometime around the fifteenth century, a talented young sculptor, a one Hans Gieng, decided to blindfold Themis. Geing felt that true justice must be blind. True justice looks beyond age, race, wealth, status, privilege, education, public image, or anything that could obscure justice for that matter. Essentially, this is a principle lauded by most in the Legal field. A famous philosopher actually wrote an entire book called A Theory of Justice in which he argues that a veil of ignorance is a requirement for justice. Geing was extremely forward looking with his addition of the blindfold to Themis. 

Modern Lady Justice

Nowadays, Themis adorns courtrooms all across America in the form Gieng envisioned and constructed. Lady Justice represents the stitching that holds American society together. She serves as an ideal for egalitarianism. An ideal that may never be fully realized but is nevertheless beneficial to society. She sets an example that even if the workings of society may never be perfectly fair, our court system should strive to create a perfect system of fairness.