|Rule #1: Don't bring up King Hammurabi's nose.|
|Rule #2: Just let Babylon conquer you, before you |
get your feelings hurt.
Of course, Hammurabi's conquests allowed him to put together his claim to fame: the Code of Hammurabi. This listing of 282 different laws, inscribed on a nearly eight-foot-tall rock stele (Rule #3), is considered the oldest piece of writing of significant length in the world, with the basis for "significant length" being that it is longer than the lyrics to "Stairway to Heaven." It is dated to about the middle of his reign, around 1772 BC, demonstrating that Hammurabi was able to multitask in devising the code while conquering his neighbors (as well as learning to play bass guitar for his sci-fi themed Maroon 5 cover band: Babyloon 5). The most complete copy of the Code that exists today is currently on display at the Louvre in Paris. This makes total sense since the French, above all other nations, have historically adhered to their established constitutions and never ever started rebellions or revolutions to make radical changes to the standing government. Hammurabi would have been more than glad to let them have it.
|Rule #3: As tempting as it is, the |
Code of Hammurabi stele should
not be used as a obstacle on a
history-themed miniature golf
Hammurabi's law code also opened the door for the idea that people accused of a crime are innocent until proven guilty. One rule stated:
If any one bring an accusation against a man, and the accused go to the river [metaphor for trial] and leap into the river, if he sink in the river his accuser shall take possession of his house. But if the river prove that the accused is not guilty, and he escape unhurt, then he who had brought the accusation shall be put to death, while he who leaped into the river shall take possession of the house that had belonged to his accuser.It would certainly make Judge Judy a tad more watchable if the case between Dusty and Bobby-Sue (and who owes who child support) would decide which one meets their end and which one gets to keep that sweet mobile home. The Code also dealt with the responsibilities of certain professionals, and the dire consequences of their mistakes. Judges who make incorrect verdicts, builders who construct faulty homes, doctors who kill their patients through negligence, sports prognosticators who make reckless predictions like putting the Mets in the World Series; all were held accountable for their actions, and most were put to death. Thankfully, that and other concepts of the law that have faded away over time, most prominently that punishments were softened when the crime was committed against someone of a lower class. This is even evident in the "eye for an eye" princple, where the law applies to those of the same rank, but "if he put out the eye of a freed man...he shall pay one gold mina" and "if he put out the eye of a man's slave...he shall pay one-half of its value." So as long as you have the money, you can pull out the eyes of all the freemen and slaves you desire! Start a collection, why dontcha?!
|Rule #4: Have pants with |
really big pockets.
The Code of Hammurabi spread like wildfire throughout the Near East, with copies of it found from Iran to Israel. With it, the idea that the laws of the land should be established and posted for all to see picked up steam as well; other examples throughout history have followed in the Twelve Tables of Rome, the Tang Code in China, the Napoleonic Code, and the original Dungeons & Dragons: Rules for Fantastic Medieval Wargames Campaigns Playable with Paper and Pencil and Miniature Figures. While many of his laws were really meant to protect his citizens and prevent folks from taking the law into their own hands, I can't help but feel weighed down by all these responsibilities. People should be free, man! They shouldn't have to live under the thumb of some contrived code! I say we break free of our chains, and live like the human beings that... HEY! Someone just ran up behind me and clawed my eyeball right now! What a jerk! Someone should stop him and charge him at the fullest extent of the law! I demand justice, or else I'm going after his leg with a chainsaw!
On second thought, maybe rules are a good thing after all. Carry on then!