Intended to convey the progression and development of law through the ages, the detailed figures featured in these two friezes represent eighteen of the greatest lawgivers from history. The south frieze depicts ancient and classical figures from before the Christian Era, while the north frieze portrays lawgivers from the Middle Ages and the Enlightenment. In total, the two friezes depict individuals from many different civilizations, including nine monarchs, four statesmen, two judges, two prophets, and one philosopher. Interspersed between the historical figures are iconic winged angels who are meant to personify certain ideals, like equity, authority, wisdom, liberty and peace.
This confluence of lawgivers from many different backgrounds, religions, time periods and cultures is poetic. It speaks not only to the diversity of the many legal forebears to whom America is indebted but also to the great diversity inherent to the American experience.
In tribute to the great debt owed to our forebears, over the course of the next several months this blog will be pleased to feature a series of short articles discussing the significance and accomplishments of each of these great lawgivers.
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