Down the millennia, right from the hoary Narmer Palette to the grand reliefs on the walls of the magnificent temples of Ramesses II and that of later rulers; Egyptian artistic canon depicted the classic and symbolic ‘smiting’ pose in which the pharaoh was shown striking fear and awe in the hearts and minds of terrified enemies. It was, after all, the king’s bounden duty to eliminate the crippling and fearsome forces of chaos (Isfet) and maintain justice and order (Ma’at). And so, in the daily functioning of the State, stringent and unsparing action against anyone who fell afoul of the law was an integral part of the ancient Egyptian judicial system.
Wall relief of Maat in the eastern upstairs part of the temple of Edfu, Egypt. Ma’at was associated with justice and the law in ancient Egypt. (Rémih/CC BY-SA 3.0)
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