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The formers of the Hammurabi?s Code of Laws surely created strict rules with severe punishments for their violation. In fact, these laws played a big role in organization of Mesopotamian society. Reading these laws, reader may learn about ideals people of Mesopotamia had about crimes, their attitude to the lower and higher social classes, and legal rights between men and women.

Reading the laws I noticed that many crimes were punished by death penalty. Many laws tell that guilty person has to pay the same price for the physical harm one did to another person or one?s relative (laws 196, 197, 229, 230). For instance: law 196 states: ? If a man put out the eye of another man, his eye shall be put out.? In addition, at that time, people were penalized to death for many crimes or wrongdoings that almost never would be penalized with capital punishment at a modern time. Among such felony and misdemeanors are stealing (6, 14, 21), robbery (22), accusation (2,3), adultery (129, 130), and desertion (32, 33).

Hammurabi?s Code also, reveals inequality between social classes. Slaves were not treated by the laws the same as free-born people. For example: In law 202 it says: ? If any one strike the body of a man higher in rank than he, he shall receive sixty blows with an ox-whip in public.? At the same time in law 203 we read: ?If a free-born man strike the body of another free-born man or equal rank, he shall pay one gold mine.? It will not take much effort for a free-born man to pay one gold mine for his wrongdoing, but for the slave it is much more dreadful and humiliating to receive sixty blows with a whip in public.

According to the Code of Hammurabi, women had some legal rights, but these rights were not equal to men?s. Married women had a right to divorce as well as men. In fact, in order to acquire the right for divorce, a woman has to find a reasonable explanation for her desire, and only than the divorce could be possible (142). The evidence of inequality between men and women can be found in the laws 38 and 39, which declare that a man, who rents property cannot assign it to his wife or daughter or give it for debt. Though if a man owns this property than his wife and daughter have such a privilege.

Overall, the Hammurabi?s Code of Laws showed that crimes in Mesopotamia were followed by severe punishments. Very often these punishments were death penalty. The laws were not equal between social classes, and slaves were subjected to the harsher punishments than free-born. Finally, even though women had some privileges, the laws provide evidences that there was still inequality between them and men.


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