Maat is depicted in the form of a woman seated or standing. She holds the sceptre in one hand and the ankh in the other. A symbol of Maat was the ostrich feather and she is always shown wearing it in her hair or she has a pair of wings attached to her arms. After death, the dead are judged in the Hall of Maat, where their conscience (heart) is weighed against the feather. A heart heavier than the feather denoted a life of wicked deeds and such a soul would be devoured, while balanced scales indicated an honourable life and such a soul would be welcomed by God Osiris.
However, justice required harmony in truth and Maat did not just insist on enforcing legalism; extraordinary at the time Maat represented order through fairness and truth and called on the rich to help the less fortunate rather than exploit them. There are tomb declarations such as:
"I have given bread to the hungry and clothed the naked"
"I was a husband to the widow and a father to the orphan"
Themis â€“ Greeks-
Adviser to Zeus
Justice, order & good counsel
Statue of Themis, Queensland Supreme Court,
Themis was a titan, goddess of justice, order and the lady of good counsel. Rather than a sceptre she held a sword. Themis was a strong woman. The Greeks drew from the Egyptians in placing women in positions of wise counsel. The Greeks personified wisdom, order and justice as women
Roman - Justitia
Scales & the sword
Court of Final Appeal, Hong Kong
Old Bailey Criminal Court London
â€śMaidenly formâ€ť guarantees impartiality
Justitia was the Roman goddess of justice combining elements of Themis with her sword and Themisâ€™s daughter Dike who carried scales. Like Maat and Themis, Justitia represented the moral force in judicial systems.
All three women drew from the ancient recognition of women as wise counsellors. These goddesses represented strength and grace while upholding truth, order and fairness. Justice was more than power or rules. These women represented the moral truth of a broader justice that ordered all affairs. These goddesses reflected the truth of Godâ€™s justice - reflecting feminine mercy and compassion over masculine power, legalism and judgment.
The rise of the Church amended Justitia â€śnot as a goddess but as a personification of ancient virtuesâ€ť. In contemporary times, Justitia has adorned courtrooms and the public forum as a trope to the Court of Law. Justitia has been commonly associated with jurisprudence.
The earliest Roman coins depicted Justitia with the sword in one hand and the scale in the other, but with her eyes uncovered. Justitia was only commonly represented as â€śblindâ€ť since about the end of the fifteenth century.
Atop the Old Bailey courthouse in London, a statue of Lady Justice stands without a blindfold; the explanation is that this is because Lady Justice was originally not blindfolded and because her â€śmaidenly formâ€ť is supposed to guarantee her impartiality which renders the blindfold redundant.
In her left hand, Lady Justice holds balance scales, which represent the weighing of evidence. When taken with the blindfold, the symbolism is that evidence must be weighed on its own merit. The Toga - symbolizes the status of the philosophical attitude that embodies justice.