The Roman Goddess Justicia, is a
personification of the morality that underlies the legal system. Since the
Renaissance, Justitia has frequently been depicted as a bare-breasted woman
carrying a sword and scales, and sometimes wearing a blindfold. Her modern
iconography offers the attributes of several goddesses who embodied Right Rule
for Greeks and Romans, blending Roman blindfolded Fortuna with Hellenistic Greek
Justitia's attributes parallel those of the Hellenic deity Themis, the
embodiment of divine order, law and custom, in her aspect as the personification
of the divine rightness of law. However, the mythological connection is not a
direct one. Themis' daughter Dike was imagined carrying scales: "If some
god had been holding level the balance of Dike" is an image in a surviving
fragment of Bacchylides's poetry.
Justitia is most often depicted with a set of weighing scales typically
suspended from her left hand, upon which she measures the strengths of a case's
support and opposition. She is also often seen carrying a double-edged sword in
her right hand, symbolizing the power of Reason and Justice, which may be
wielded either for or against any party.
Blindfolded symbolism indicates that justice is (or should be) meted out
objectively, without fear or favor, regardless of the identity, power, or
weakness of the defendant.
The earliest Roman coins depicted Justitia with the sword in one hand and the
scale in the other.
Themis was the Titan goddess of
divine law and order - the traditional rules of conduct first established by the
Greek gods. She was also a prophetic goddess who presided over the most ancient
of the earthly oracles, including the shrine of Delphi.
In this role, she was the divine
voice who first instructed mankind in the primal laws of justice and morality,
such as the precepts of piety, the rules of hospitality, good governance,
conduct of assembly, and pious offerings to the gods.
The Greek word themis meant divine law, rules established by custom and
tradition. Themis was an early bride of Zeus and his prime counsellor. She was
often represented seated beside his throne advising him on the precepts of
divine law and the rules of fate.
Themis was closely identified
with Demeter in her role as the Thesmophoros (Law Bringer). She was also
identified with Gaia (Earth) in the role of an earthly oracle or the prophetic
voice of the earth herself.