Some of the surviving law codes are originals, others near-contemporary copies. Together they preserve a partial but vivid picture of life in the early cities. This occupies more than half the book. Comparison of ancient with modern principles occupies the remainder and is bound to be controversial; but it is important as well as fascinating. The first act of writing laws diminished the discretion of the judges and foretold a limit on individual justice. Some political principles such as uniformity of treatment or individual freedom have, when carried to extremes, produced crises in modern legal systems world wide.
But it is tempting but wrong to blame the judges or the lawyers for doing what society requires of them.