Thanks for such an interesting question.
Since the original Twelve Tables were destroyed during the Gaul
invasion in Rome in 390 BC, what we have today has been compiled from
citations by different authors, so it actually is a collection of
excerpts, whose completeness vary from one table to another.
Conversely, the Code of Hammurabi, although much older (1686 BC),
carved on a black diorite stone, has been conserved almost entirely,
except for some paragraphs which has been partially or totally erased
by erosion or other causes.
However, one of the notorious differences between both normative texts
is their extension, where the Code of Hammurabi has 281 particular
clauses, many more than the Twelve Tables.
This leads us to a second difference related to the first but more
important as it refers to its content. The articles in the Code are
much more specific than in the Tables. There are many hypothetical
situations described, in which procedures, punishments or
compensations are stipulated, including measures and currency or ways
Mostly, the Twelve Tables establishes procedures and general
instructions applicable to types of situations, rather than very
Another difference is related to the origin of both texts, which also
has an influence in its content. The Code of Hammurabi made part of a
process of unification that this king achieved of the formerly
antagonizing Sumerian state-cities. As long as it?s known, the code is
not supposed to mean or express a change in the relationship of the
different social classes. It was meant to bring order and peace in a
As to the Tables, the main drive to its creation was a process of
class struggle. The Roman social stratification between patricians and
plebeians had been in crisis for the last 200 years, due to arbitrary
abuse of the former upon the latter. Despite from our twenty first
century point of view the Tables could be seen as testimony of class
inequity ?as in the article that forbids marriage between plebeians
and patricians- the confection of the Tables itself, and its placement
in a public location was a decisive advance for the plebeians, because
one of the means the patricians had to oppressed them was the
exclusivity of the knowledge of the law, that they would change at
will in order to preserve their privileges. Even the existence of a
law forbidding marriage between classes could be seen as an aspiration
or trend that the patricians were trying to prevent.
The Code also shows us a society very much stratified, where there
were freeborn men, freedmen and slaves, but a greater social mobility
and relationship between classes seemed to exist; see for example:
?175. If a State slave or the slave of a freed man marry the daughter
of a free man, and children are born, the master of the slave shall
have no right to enslave the children of the free.?
Here you can see that marriage between a slave and a free person was
allowed, and freedom from birth was protected.
However, those class differences were taken in account while
?196. If a man put out the eye of another man, his eye shall be put
out. [ An eye for an eye ]
?197. If he break another man's bone, his bone shall be broken.
?198. If he put out the eye of a freed man, or break the bone of a
freed man, he shall pay one gold mina.
?199. If he put out the eye of a man's slave, or break the bone of a
man's slave, he shall pay one-half of its value.?
Finally, there are many issues addressed by the Code of Hammurabi in
detail, that the Twelve Tables either mention rather superficially or
doesn?t mention at all:
Many rules meant to protect property and it's distribution and
procedures, as in very different type of inheritance cases, marriage
Matters of national interest: how does a man behave in case of being
called for war.
Slavery recognized and protected as a legitimate commerce and property.
Establishes principles of private property, rent and usufruct.
Agricultural procedures and contingences.
Liability for different causes, such as water irrigation contingences,
building accidents, and others.
Compensation procedures for losses due to third parties regarding
commercial, agricultural or shepherding activities.
Establishes fine prices.
Protection of maternity.
Protection of women, marriage contingencies.
Professions: physicians, veterinary, builders, barbers, shipbuilders,
sailors; fees and compensation for malpractice, which may include
My search strategy was: twelve-tables ?code of Hammurabi?
Some of my answers? information was taken from the following websites:
Encyclopedia: Code of Hammurabi:
Encyclopedia: XII Tables: http://www.nationmaster.com/encyclopedia/XII-Tables
For the complete text of the Code of Hammurabi, see:
The Code of Hammurabi?s Code of Law:
Paragraphs 1-65: http://www.sacred-texts.com/ane/ham/ham05.htm
Paragraphs 100 ? 199: http://www.sacred-texts.com/ane/ham/ham06.htm
Paragraphs 200 ? 299: http://www.sacred-texts.com/ane/ham/ham07.htm
I hope to have met your expectations for an answer. If you want any
clarification, please don?t hesitate to ask.