Code of Hammurabi

The law of Talion was clear, when committing a crime that violated the Code of Hammurabi, payment was made with the death of the accused, hence the famous quote: "eye for eye, tooth for tooth". Represented as the antecedent to many modern legal concepts, this code has undergone changes throughout history to create a balance with its laws and society. One of its most radical and famous laws was: "If a lord accuses another lord, and files against him a charge of murder, but cannot prove it, his accuser will be punished with death. This was the first written law of the Code of Hammurabi.

Code of Hammurabi

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Quid pro quo

What is the Code of Hammurabi?

The Code of Hammurabi is the first grouping of laws in history entrusted by God Marduk to promote and govern the welfare among human beings.

About the Code of Hammurabi

Through its set of established laws and regulations, the Code of Hammurabi consisted of controlling, organizing, and governing 18th century society in ancient Mesopotamia, where there was a punishment for exchange equivalence.

Characteristics of the Code of Hammurabi

The Code of Hammurabi is governed by three main features:

To which culture did it belong?

The Code of Hammurabi belonged to the culture of the ancient Orient, in the year 1750-1790 B.C., in the city of Babylon.

History of the Code of Hammurabi

In ancient Eastern culture, it was the gods who dictated the laws to men for handling a deeper sense of spirituality and balance, so the laws have a divinity character. In any case, it is the God Samash, the mighty Sun God and God of justice, who grants the laws to King Hammurabi of Babylon (1750-1790 B.C.).

In fact, before Hammurabi came to power, it was the priests of God Samash who fulfilled the function as judges, but Hammurabi established that only the key royal officials would apply this work, thus limiting the power they exercised from the priests and gaining strength for the monarch himself.

The code of law unifies the different codes existing in the cities of the Babylonian empire. With this, it seeks to establish applicable laws in all cases, and thus prevent everyone from “taking justice into their own hands“, because without a written law that judges could apply in a mandatory way, it was easy for each one to act as they pleased for that time.

In the Code of Hammurabi there is no distinction between civil and criminal law, i.e., laws are applied that regulate different situations of daily life and laws that punish crimes committed. It employs the regulation of trade, unpaid work, different types of loans, rents, inheritances for each family, divorces, property, death penalties for crimes of robbery, murder, among others.

Most of the penalties written into the Code of Hammurabi are pecuniary (fines or warnings), although there is also the penalty of mutilation and even the death penalty. In many cases, the law chooses to apply Talion’s motto, that is, to do to the aggressor exactly what he did to his victim, this worked as long as both were of the same “category“.

The Talion law only applies between individuals of the same category. If the aggressor is a higher category than the assaulted (victim), the Talion law does not apply, but rather a pecuniary sentence is applied.

In the code, there is the presence of three ” men’s, categories “: the free ones, the slaves and an intermediate category called “muskenu” that could refer to the servants.

On what principle was Hammurabi’s Code based?

His ideal was to base itself on the law of Talion, as a symbol of equivalence of exchange or equilibrium. That provided control through its laws to control society.


Here are the most relevant laws of the Code of Hammurabi:

Women’s rights

On women’s rights in the Code of Hammurabi, here are some quotes:

Children’s rights

Importance of the Code of Hammurabi

The Code of Hammurabi has a wide meaning, as it attracts with it, laws and organizations that venerate and protect the welfare of citizens, as well as pioneering inspiration in later centuries, for the creation of laws, in all nations of the world.


Written by Gabriela Briceño V.

How to cite this article?

Briceño V., Gabriela. (2019). Code of Hammurabi. Recovered on 23 February, 2024, de Euston96:

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