Law

Maat, Goddess of Order

"Ur-Nammu... saw to it that the orphan did not fall a prey to the wealthy, the widow did not fall a prey to the powerful, [and] the man of one sheckel did not fall a prey to the man of one mina [60 sheckels]". - Code of Ur-Nammu.

Law codes and texts from around the world can be read at the library. The oldest texts we have are from the Sumerians. We have The Code of Ur-Nammu, from the 3rd Dynasty of Ur, and the later Code of Lipit-Ishtar. We also have Babylonian codes, such as the well-known Code of Hammurabi and the older but less well-known Code of Bilama. We also have many fine Greek texts, such as Aristotle's Constitution of Athens. Texts from the School of Law at Berytus [Beirut] can also be found. We also have the Constitution of Carthage, which Aristotle admired. Roman texts include Cicero's On the Laws.

Oratory

We have many fine speeches from Egypt and other countries. Demosthenes and Hyperides, noted Greek orators, are well-represented at our library. We also have speeches from Metellus (d. 221 B.C.), Cato the Elder (c 195 B.C.), and well-known orators from the 1st century B.C., such as Cotta, Cicero, and Q. Hortensius Hortalus. We also have some of Caesar's speeches, which are much admired by the Romans.

Philosophy

We have the works of many philosophers, including Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Thales, Euclid of Megara, and Isocrates. All major philosophical schools, such as the Sophists, Stoics, and Epicureans, are represented in their Greek and Roman forms.

The Stoic school of philosophy was founded by Zeno of Citium in Cyprus (336 - 263 B.C.) and stressed the importance of self-perception and aquiring knowledge through the senses. The universe is thus material in nature. Words are important to the Stoics because without words we can not talk about ideas. The Greek Stoic, Crates of Mallos, was the first to compose grammatical analyses (2nd century B.C.). Panaetius (c 180 - 110 B.C.) brought Stoicism to Rome.

The Epicurean school was founded by Epicurus of Athens (340 - 271 B.C.) and said that truth came from sensation and that the universe was not material in nature but instead was filled by atoms and void. There was no room for the divine. Good and evil were measured by how it affected the senses and created pleasure and pain. C. Amafinius and Philodemus of Gadara (c 110 - c 35 B.C.) popularized these theories for later generations. People interested in Epicurean thought would also like Lucretius' Epicurean poetry in the poetry section.


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Updated November 20, 2009