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Q: brief history of the scales of justice ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: brief history of the scales of justice
Category: Arts and Entertainment > Performing Arts
Asked by: jayj-ga
List Price: $25.00
Posted: 02 Oct 2003 08:22 PDT
Expires: 01 Nov 2003 07:22 PST
Question ID: 262188
I am intrested in learning a bit about the history of the figure "the
scales of justice" and what the scales and sword she holds
represents...I am a magician and am using this information for a
routine, so short intresting facts are what I'm looking for
Subject: Re: brief history of the scales of justice
Answered By: bobbie7-ga on 02 Oct 2003 12:34 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hello jayj-ga,

The figure holding the scales of justice goes by many names; the most
popular are Lady Justice, Scales of Justice, and Blind Justice and the
origins go back to the ancient Greek and Roman images of Themis and
Justitia. I am providing you with short interesting facts but I highly
recommend that you read each article in its entirety.

The information sheet on Justice Statues, figures & images at the U.S.
Supreme Court provides the following facts:

“Portraying Justice as a female figure dates back to depictions of
Themis and Justicia (Justitia) in ancient mythology.”

“Themis, known for her clear-sightedness, was the Greek Goddess of
Justice and Law.”

“In Roman mythology, Justicia (Justice) was one of the four Virtues
along with Prudence, Fortitude and Temperance.”

“Some early depictions of Justice included scales to represent
impartiality and a sword to symbolize power.”

“The origin of the blindfold is unclear, but there is some evidence
that early artists added the blindfold to indicate the courts’
tolerance of, or ignorance to, abuse of the law. Today the blindfold
is generally accepted as a symbol of impartiality”

Office of the Curator c Supreme Court of the United States


Barbara Swatt, Reference Intern of the M.G. Gallagher Law Library
provides a brief overview:

Ancient Eygyptians:
 “She was referred to as Ma'at by the ancient Egyptians and was often
depicted carrying a sword with an ostrich feather in her hair (but no
scales) to symbolize truth and justice.”

Ancient Greeks:
“To the ancient Greeks she was known as Themis. (..) Classical
representations of Themis did not show her blindfolded (because of her
talent for prophecy, she had no need to be blinded) nor was she
holding a sword (because she represented common consent, not

“The Roman goddess of justice was called Justitia and was often
portrayed as evenly balancing both scales and a sword and wearing a

M.G. Gallagher Law Library


The Reference Librarian, Maureen Delovio answered the following
question: What is the origin of the Lady of Justice?

“The origin of the Lady of Justice is believed to be the Greek
mythological goddess, Themis. This deity was daughter to Uranus and
Gaia and was a partner and advisor to Zeus. Themis was a Titan who
believed in and taught obedience to laws and peace. "She became known
as a goddess of divine justice." The depictions of her carrying a
sword in one hand and the scales of justice in the other with her eyes
covered is used to this day as our symbol of law and justice.

West Warwick Public Library - Reference & Resources          


Attorney Thomas P. Vincent’s website on Legal History and Philosophy
discusses the origin of the Lady of Justice:

“The origin may be Themis, a Greek mythological goddess. One of the
Titans, pre-Hellenic nature deities born to Uranus and Ge, she
remained and advised Zeus after his purge of the old pantheon. In
depictions of her, she carries the scales of justice in one hand and a
sword in the other, her eyes covered. She became an oracle at Delphi,
and became known as a goddess of divine justice.”


“The Egyptians honored Maat, the daughter of the sun god, Ra. She also
carried a sword but without a scale of justice.”

“Justitia, a Roman goddess of justice, wore a blindfold. She had been
depicted with sword and scales, but was not always so”.

Thomas Vincent: Legal History


Justitia: “the ancient Roman personification of justice”
Source: Infoplease

Themis:  “in Greek religion and mythology, a Titan. Sometimes
identified as an earth goddess, she was more commonly a goddess of
law, order, and justice. She was the mother by Zeus of the Horae (the
Seasons) and the Moerae (the Fates). It was also said that she was the
mother of Prometheus by Iapetus.”
Source: Infoplease

Maat: In Egyptian religion, the goddess personifying law and
Source: Infoplease


The scales represent fairness and balance and the sword are symbols of
enforced justice.

“Western depictions of the Lady of Justice, are representations of
Themis, the Greek goddess of justice, later Rome's Justitia. The
scales of justice in her left hand represent fairness and balance; the
sword and chain in her right hand are symbols of enforced, even
deadly, justice. Almost always draped in flowing robes, mature but not
old, she symbolizes the fair and equal administration of the law,
without corruption, avarice, prejudice or favor.”

Dr. Roger Hanson: Themis



“The scales that she holds represent the impartiality with which
justice is served and the sword signifies the power that is held by
those making the decision. During the 16th century, artists started
showing the lady blindfolded to show that justice is not subject to
influence. From this, the statue earned the name Blind Justice.” Justice


Quotations by William Penn. (1644–1718).  
Fruits of Solitude
The Harvard Classics 1909–14. 

 “Justice is justly represented Blind, because she sees no Difference
in the Parties concerned.”

“She has but one Scale and Weight, for Rich and Poor, Great and

Source: Bartleby


You may read more about Lady Justice at


Search Criteria:

Justice Symbols
Origin "lady of justice"
Origin "lady justice" 
Origin "blind justice” 
Themis Justitia Maat
Ancient Greece 
Mythology Themis
Scales of Justice +figure
justice sword scales

I hope you find this information useful for your magic routine. If
anything is unclear or if a link does not function, please let me know
and I’ll be glad to offer further assistance.

Best Regards,
jayj-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
your information was exactly what I needed.Well done

There are no comments at this time.

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