Lady Justice

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blindfolded lady with sword in right hand held vertically down to floor, and a set of balance scales in her left hand held neck high
Statue of Lady Justice blindfolded and holding a balance and a sword, outside the Court of Final Appeal, Hong Kong

Lady Justice (Latin: Iustitia) is an allegorical personification of the moral force in judicial systems.[1][2] Her attributes are a blindfold, scales, and a sword. She often appears as a pair with Prudentia.

Lady Justice originates from the personification of Justice in Ancient Roman art known as Iustitia or Justitia,[3] who is equivalent to the Greek goddess Dike.

The goddess Justicia[edit]

The origin of Lady Justice was Justitia, the goddess of Justice within Roman mythology. Justitia was introduced by emperor Augustus, and was thus not a very old deity in the Roman pantheon.

Justice was one of the virtues celebrated by emperor Augustus in his clipeus virtutis, and a temple of Iustitia was established in Rome by emperor Tiberius.[3] Iustitia became a symbol for the virtue of justice with which every emperor wished to associate his regime; emperor Vespasian minted coins with the image of the goddess seated on a throne called Iustitia Augusta, and many emperors after him used the image of the goddess to proclaim themselves protectors of justice.[3]

Though formally called a goddess with her own temple and cult shrine in Rome, it appears that she was from the onset viewed more as an artistic symbolic personification rather than as an actual deity with religious significance.


The Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead depicts a scene in which a deceased person's heart is weighed against the feather of truth.

The personification of justice balancing the scales dates back to the goddess Maat,[4] and later Isis, of ancient Egypt. The Hellenic deities Themis and Dike were later goddesses of justice. Themis was the embodiment of divine order, law, and custom, in her aspect as the personification of the divine rightness of law.


Lady Justice is most often depicted with a set of scales typically suspended from one hand, upon which she measures the strengths of a case's support and opposition.

The Greek goddess Dike is depicted holding a set of scales.

Bacchylides, Fragment 5 (trans. Campbell, Vol. Greek Lyric IV) (Greek lyric c. 5th B.C.):

If some god had been holding level the balance of Dike (Justice).

The scales represent the weighing of evidence, and the scales lack a foundation in order to signify that evidence should stand on its own.


18th-century Lady Justice at the Castellania

Since the 16th century, Lady Justice has often been depicted wearing a blindfold. The blindfold represents impartiality, the ideal that justice should be applied without regard to wealth, power, or other status. The earliest Roman coins depicted Justitia with the sword in one hand and the scale in the other, but with her eyes uncovered.[5] Justitia was only commonly represented as "blind" since the middle of the 16th century. The first known representation of blind Justice is Hans Gieng's 1543 statue on the Gerechtigkeitsbrunnen (Fountain of Justice) in Berne.[6]

Instead of using the Janus approach, many sculptures simply leave out the blindfold altogether. For example, atop the Old Bailey courthouse in London, a statue of Lady Justice stands without a blindfold;[7] the courthouse brochures explain that this is because Lady Justice was originally not blindfolded, and because her "maidenly form" is supposed to guarantee her impartiality which renders the blindfold redundant.[8] Another variation is to depict a blindfolded Lady Justice as a human scale, weighing competing claims in each hand. An example of this can be seen at the Shelby County Courthouse in Memphis, Tennessee.[9]


The sword represented authority in ancient times, and conveys the idea that justice can be swift and final.[10]


The Greco-Roman garment symbolizes the status of the philosophical attitude that embodies justice.[10][unreliable source?]

In computer systems[edit]

In UnicodeU+2696 SCALES (HTML ⚖)
See alsoU+00A7 § SECTION SIGN

Unicode version 4.1.0 implemented a symbol at code point U+2696 that may be used to represent the scales of justice.[11]

In art[edit]




Lady Justice and her symbols are used in heraldry, especially in the arms of legal government agencies.

See also[edit]

Goddesses of Justice and related concepts[edit]


Notable programs[edit]

Female justices of the US Supreme Court[edit]

Female justices of the UK Supreme Court[edit]

In fiction[edit]


  1. ^ Hamilton, Marci. God vs. the Gavel, page 296 (Cambridge University Press 2005): "The symbol of the judicial system, seen in courtrooms throughout the United States, is blindfolded Lady Justice."
  2. ^ Fabri, The challenge of change for judicial systems, page 137 (IOS Press 2000): "the judicial system is intended to be apolitical, its symbol being that of a blindfolded Lady Justice holding a balanced scales."
  3. ^ a b c "IUSTITIA".
  4. ^ "Apendix D: Legal Symbols of the Anglo-American Legal Tradition". The Guide to American Law : Everyone's Legal Encyclopedia. 11. West Publishing Company. St. Paul [Minn.]: West Pub. Co. 1983. p. 687. ISBN 0314732241. OCLC 9196541.CS1 maint: others (link)
  5. ^ See "The Scales of Justice as Represented in Engravings, Emblems, Reliefs and Sculptures of Early Modern Europe" in G. Lamoine, ed., Images et representations de la justice du XVie au XIXe siècle (Toulouse: University of Toulose-Le Mirail, 1983)" at page 8.
  6. ^ Image of Lady Justice in Berne.
  7. ^ Image of Lady Justice in London.
  8. ^ Colomb, Gregory. Designs on Truth, p. 50 (Penn State Press, 1992).
  9. ^ Image of Lady Justice in Memphis.
  10. ^ a b Brent T. Edwards. "Symbolism of Lady Justice". Retrieved 24 February 2017.
  11. ^ "Unicode Data-4.1.0". Retrieved 2020-09-28.
  12. ^ Takács, Peter. "Statues of Lady Justice in Hungary: Representation of Justitia in town halls, courthouses, and other public spaces" (PDF). Človek a Spoločnost. Győr, Hungary: Széchenyi István University. ISSN 1335-3608.

External links[edit]