Ancient rulers and other leaders of city-states and later nations and empires developed law codes to establish rules for dealing with family, inheritance, property, slaves, bodily harm, trade regulation, trial procedures, and more. One city might copy another. Even today, law codes build upon existing ones, especially the Roman code of Justinian.
N.B.: The name of a law code is often given in the Latin, with Codex followed by an adjectival form of the creator's name, e.g., Codex Gregorianus.
There were earlier law documents than the Code of Hammurabi (e.g. Codex Eshnunna), but the stele with the laws inscribed is well preserved and extensive. It may not even have been a law code, but a propaganda document, an idea that the carving on top of the stele gives credence to.
- "The Fascinating Code of Hammurabi: Wow! I Didn't Know That!"
Joseph T. Kelly
The History Teacher, Vol. 28, No. 4 (Aug., 1995), pp. 555-562
- "Hammurabi's Wronged Man"
Martha T. Roth
Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 122, No. 1 (Jan. - Mar., 2002), pp. 38-45
- "Vitae Necisque Potestas
Historia: Zeitschrift für Alte Geschichte, Vol. 48, No. 2, pp. 203-223
Moses is called a Jewish law-giver and is known for bringing the 10 Commandments from God to the Jewish people, but his role as law-giver grew over time. Nielsen says the role increased through the mss tradition of the Pentateuch:
- J (9th century): hardly more than half a chapter
- E (8th century): 31⁄2 chapters (4, if including the Ten Commandments)
- D (7th century): 15-16 chapters (Dtn. xii-xxv or xii-xxvi)
- P (6th-5th cent): more than 70 chapters ["Ten Commandments, ... also a code of laws concerning the Tent of the Presence, the cult, the offerings, cleanliness and uncleanliness, the feasts etc."]
- "Moses and the Law"
Vetus Testamentum, Vol. 32, Fasc. 1 (Jan., 1982), pp. 87-98
Draco is the man who is said to have written down the (draconian) laws of the Athenians for the first time. He wrote them during the archonship of Aristaechmus c. 621/0 B.C. Most scholars believe Draco wrote the laws against homicide and certain other offenses, but doubt that he wrote a constitution giving the franchise to the hoplites. Some doubt Draco ever lived.
- Douglas Maurice MacDowell "Draco" The Oxford Classical Dictionary. Simon Hornblower and Anthony Spawforth. © Oxford University Press 1949, 1970, 1996, 2005.
- "The Republication of Draco's Law on Homicide"
Andrew B. Gallia
The Classical Quarterly, New Series, Vol. 54, No. 2 (Dec., 2004), pp. 451-460
Lycurgus was a legendary, perhaps historical Spartan law-giver from the 7th centuy B.C. first mentioned by Herodotus, as guaradian of the Agiad king Leobotes, and credited with creating most of Sparta's eunomia 'good order' -- the Spartan signature institutions, being inspired by the institutions of Crete.
- "The Women of Sparta"
The Classical Journal, Vol. 73, No. 2 (Dec., 1977 - Jan., 1978), pp. 146-161
- Stephen J. Hodkinson " Lycurgus (2)" The Oxford Classical Dictionary. Simon Hornblower and Anthony Spawforth. © Oxford University Press 1949, 1970, 1996, 2005.
It was probably in 594, when Solon was made one of the archons, that he was made law-giver entrusting with revising the laws of Athens, except Draco's law on homicide. Through the laws, power was distributed.
- Edward Harris "Solon" The Oxford International Encyclopedia of Legal History. Oxford University Press, 2009.
In 438, Emperor Theodosius II commissioned the law code known as the Codex Theodosianus, which listed 2500 imperial laws from 429-438. It supplemented the earlier Codex Gregorianus and Hermogenianus and included those laws a commission of 8 could find from the time od Constantine. It was hoped the code would smooth differences between the two halves of the empire.
- Arnold Hugh Martin Jones, W. Liebeschuetz, Tony Honoré "Theodosius II" Who's Who in the Classical World. Ed. Simon Hornblower and Tony Spawforth. Oxford University Press, 2000.
Justinian created a committee of ten to create the Codex Iustinianus, which would include the Theodosian codex plus all subsequent laws. They were instructed to weed out superfluous laws, divide according to topic and then within each, arrange chronologically. When finished it superseded all previous law codes.
- Andrew Lewis, Rena van den Bergh, Boudewijn Sirks, Paul du Plessis, David Ibbetson, Martin Avenarius, Alexa Nieschlag "Roman Law" The Oxford International Encyclopedia of Legal History.