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Femmes, Droit et Justice dans l'Antiquité orientale: Contribution à l'étude du droit pénal au Proche-Orient ancien


Lafont, Sophie (1999). Femmes, Droit et Justice dans l'Antiquité orientale: Contribution à l'étude du droit pénal au Proche-Orient ancien. Fribourg, Switzerland / Göttingen, Germany: Éditions Universitaires / Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.

Abstract

This book offers a critical synthesis on criminal law regarding women in the ancient Near East. Based on inspection of Sumerian, Akkadian, Hittite, and biblical documents, it attempts to answer two fundamental questions. The first deals with the nature of the offenses committed or sustained by women. As compiled, the pertinent infractions are seen to belong mainly to family and private spheres. Because ancient Near Eastern legislative sources apply to free women almost exclusively, legal deeds and narratives pertaining to women are also consulted for information on the legal condition of slaves and to complement information provided by the codes.
A second issue is the nature of criminal legislation that is specific to women. This study shows how the law conventionally evolved from cultural mores that assign women a standing in the social structure of the community. Apart from offenses commonly treated as feminine because of their very nature (such as abortion or uncontracted wet-nursing), all other provisions about women are dependent on their particular social status. As a wife, a mother, or a daughter, a woman must submit to rigorous social obligations; but she can profit also from legal stipulations that are often caring and protective. While prostitutes or innkeepers are not expected to lead exemplary lives, they pay the price of escaping male control by their inferior social standing.
The image we therefore have of women in antiquity turn out to be at once original and banal. Original, because the autonomy of women in civil or commercial matters contrasts with their dependence on men in criminal matters (especially as it concerns the honor and dignity of their status). Banal, because in such matters adultery or rape, the legislators of antiquity anticipated their modern counterpart, crafting laws that reflected permanent and universal legal concerns rather than historical connections.

Abstract

This book offers a critical synthesis on criminal law regarding women in the ancient Near East. Based on inspection of Sumerian, Akkadian, Hittite, and biblical documents, it attempts to answer two fundamental questions. The first deals with the nature of the offenses committed or sustained by women. As compiled, the pertinent infractions are seen to belong mainly to family and private spheres. Because ancient Near Eastern legislative sources apply to free women almost exclusively, legal deeds and narratives pertaining to women are also consulted for information on the legal condition of slaves and to complement information provided by the codes.
A second issue is the nature of criminal legislation that is specific to women. This study shows how the law conventionally evolved from cultural mores that assign women a standing in the social structure of the community. Apart from offenses commonly treated as feminine because of their very nature (such as abortion or uncontracted wet-nursing), all other provisions about women are dependent on their particular social status. As a wife, a mother, or a daughter, a woman must submit to rigorous social obligations; but she can profit also from legal stipulations that are often caring and protective. While prostitutes or innkeepers are not expected to lead exemplary lives, they pay the price of escaping male control by their inferior social standing.
The image we therefore have of women in antiquity turn out to be at once original and banal. Original, because the autonomy of women in civil or commercial matters contrasts with their dependence on men in criminal matters (especially as it concerns the honor and dignity of their status). Banal, because in such matters adultery or rape, the legislators of antiquity anticipated their modern counterpart, crafting laws that reflected permanent and universal legal concerns rather than historical connections.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Monograph
Communities & Collections:Special Collections > Orbis Biblicus et Orientalis
Dewey Decimal Classification:200 Religion
290 Other religions
930 History of ancient world (to ca. 499)
Language:French
Date:1999
Deposited On:19 Jul 2018 09:01
Last Modified:24 Sep 2019 23:32
Publisher:Éditions Universitaires / Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht
Series Name:Orbis Biblicus et Orientalis
Volume:165
Number of Pages:562
ISBN:3-7278-1226-5
Additional Information:Digitalisat erstellt durch Florina Tischhauser, Religionswissenschaftliches Seminar, Universität Zürich
OA Status:Green
Related URLs:https://www.zora.uzh.ch/54117/

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