The Law

    Oresteia # In 458 B.C., Aeschylus produced the Oresteia, the greatest tragic drama in human history. It is a window into the evolution of Athenian justice, the principles underlying its law, and the threats to justice inherent in human passions. The play is a transcendental plea. For democratic justice. The third part of the trilogy its final act portrays a courtroom trial in which the mental state of the defendant is central with all the elements of what today we call legal insanity.

    Biblical Law and Justice # Old Testament Justice The Bible: is perhaps one of the most consequential of books in Western Civilisation, it forms the basis of most of our values. It can of course be used to justify all manner of doings, both good and evil. It does provide us a foundation of virtuous metaphysical principles; tolerance, understanding, equity, altruism and acceptance. “replenish the earth and subdue it”. Genesis 1:28 This can be used to used by both environmentalists and exploitive developers.

    Helen Garner, Literature and Justice # *Love’s progress is seldom smooth. * But everyone knows that love is brutal. A thousand songs tell the story. Love tears right through to the centre of us, into our secret self, and lays it wide open. Surely Sigmund Freud was right when he said, “We are never so defenceless against suffering as when we love.” ABOUT THE AUTHOR - HELEN GARNER Helen Garner is an award-winning novelist, short-story writer, screenwriter and journalist.

    Hesiodic Works and Days # Early in the seventh century AD, Hesiod, a contemporary of Homer and Solon, comments on the urgent demands of the ordinary peasants not to be victims of the arbitrary jurisdiction of the aristocrats. Oppression and injustice were the growing causes of complaint. Blood vengeance with its curse of constant feuds among the clans can only be avoided by responsible and fair minded rule of law.

    Jewish persecution # Jewish intellectuals like Hannah Arendt, Franz Kafka, Albert Einstein and many others have made outstanding contributions to the world’s progress. Religions tend to arouse deep passions, strong convictions and assumptions of righteousness that justify entitlements of power to impose their views on others. Most conquer territory by a combination of coercion and conversion forcing the indigenous inhabitants, as part of their hegemony, to adhere to their teachings and practices - Catholics in South America, Protestants in North America and Africa, Muslims in North Africa and in the Balkans, later India and Afghanistan and the Hindus vied the Buddhists for hegemony in the Orient.

    Biblical Law and Justice # Old Testament Justice # The Bible: is perhaps the most consequential of books in Western Civilisation, it forms the basis of most of our values. It can of course be used to justify all manner of doings, both good and evil. It does provide us a foundation of virtuous metaphysical principles; tolerance, understanding, equity, altruism and acceptance. “replenish the earth and subdue it”. Genesis 1:28 This can be used to used by both environmentalists and exploitive developers.

    Euripides’ Revenger’s Tragedy, Medea, first performed in 431 BCE, is every Family Court’s Judges’ worst nightmare. Medea, falls in love with Jason of the Argonauts, betrays her father, the King Aeetes of Colchis and kills her own brother, to help Jason claim the Golden Fleece. Knowlegible in magic, Medea, soceress, makes magic potions to protect Jason from fire-breathing bulls, giants and serpent guarding the Fleece. After ten years of marriage and three children, Medea is then abandoned in Corinth by Jason when, a King Crean offers Jason the throne if he marries his daughter Glauce.

    Muslims and the Law # Islam has a long history of pluralism. The earliest community of Muslims led by Prophet Muhammad in 7th-century Medina included Jews, Christians and other non-Muslims. The Medinan Constitution, presided over by Muhammad, accorded rights to all Medinans from all faiths. In his last sermon, Muhammad reminded his congregation of the imperative to accord respect and dignity to all human beings – irrespective of their colour and gender.

    Social Justice Films # The modern moral guardrails are presented by the visual media today. Due to the dramatic fall in church attendance, people get their ethical guidance through social media. Groundhog Day # Common advice is to deal with issues and move on emotionally – don’t dwell on the past. This is a favourite politician’s argument when faced with a scandal. Its adverse effect is to make us like Phil, a weatherman from Groundhog day – condemned to repeat each day by “moving on” –everyday is a brand new day, no one ever remembers what happened the day before or the day before that, knowledge and wisdom do not accumulate, and we repeat our mistakes without learning anything.

    Solon # Solon, is generally credited with the introduction of Justice and Democracy to Athens. His esteemed authority has stood the test of time. Both Plato and Aristotle bow to his acknowledged authority in law. Juvenal simply refers to him as “eloquent Solon, the Just”. The people of Athens, suffering under the capricious and arbitrary jurisdiction of aristocratic judges, wanted Solon to use his popularity and his power to make himself a tyrant.

    Sophocles - Antigone # Antigone, in Greek legend, the daughter born of the unwittingly incestuous union of Oedipus and his mother, Jocasta. After her father blinded himself upon discovering that Jocasta was his mother and that, also unwittingly, he had slain his father, Antigone and her sister Ismene served as Oedipus’ guides, following him from Thebes into exile until his death near Athens. Following Oedipus' exile, his sons agreed to share the rule of Thebes, alternating in rule every year.

    We need to distinguish between Natural Justice and Man made Law. Though laws are essential to any civilised society, they can be flawed. Aristotle maintains “Law is mind without reason”. Anything that is unjust, cannot be considered lawful. Primitive perceptions of Justice was that it was all at the mercy of the gods and man needed to propitiate the gods with sacrifice and abstemious behaviour. Even as late as the fifteenth C.