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Why Did the Romans Ban Ancient Egyptian Lawyers from Going to Alexandria’s Courts?

The Ancient Egyptian civilization was popular for its pyramids, pharaohs, culture, and inventions. They were advanced in several fields, including mathematics and language. But did you know the Romans banned Egyptian Lawyers from attending court hearings?

Ancient Egyptians were notorious for their political humor. The Romans banned Egyptian Lawyers from attending court because of how they would laugh at poor verdicts. All the joking around disrupted the sanctity of the courts.

When Did Ancient Egyptians Start Practicing Law?

Egyptian law started under the reign of King Menes. The practice was developed up until the Roman occupation around 30 BC. According to historians, Egyptian law is practiced longer than any other civilization and even beyond Roman occupation. While there is no formal Egyptian code of law that has been uncovered, several pharaohs were identified to be lawgivers.

The ultimate authority in settling disputes was the pharaoh, whose words were deemed supreme. Due to the complicated nature of the legal administration back then, the pharaoh also delegated to provincial governors and other officials. (Source: Britannica)

What Was the Ancient Egyptian Justice System Like?

The Ancient Egyptians had a legal code in place, but there were no official lawyers in the early days. Parties would need to plead their cases to government authorities closest to the pharaoh. According to historians, the longest will made was done in 2026 BC on Nek’ure’s tomb walls. He was the son of pharaoh Khafre, who gave away his wealth and properties to his wife, another woman, and three children.

The courts during this time were often in a courtyard on a temp, and the judges were the mayor, council of elders, priests, and on some occasions, the pharaoh himself. If found guilty, the plaintiff will be tortured by beating their soles with a stick or being drenched in donkey milk and be secluded until they have been consumed by ants, fleas, and other insects. Some punishments are even carried into the afterlife. (Source: Facts and Details)

How Did Egyptian Humor Get Them Banned from Roman Courts?

It is said that Ancient Egyptians believed that the world was created out of laughter. Their humor was often represented in a puzzle, riddle, or jokes on papyrus that can be found in several museums worldwide. And since the dawn of time, they have been able to tackle taboo topics often set aside.

When Rome took over Egypt, they banned Egyptian lawyers from attending hearings at Alexandria’s courts because they would often laugh at the poor verdicts of Roman judges. They would also make fun, sing songs, and joke around to defend political prisoners.

Egyptians are twisted and bitter people with a sense of humor.

Theocritus, Roman Poet

The Egyptian lawyers also made jokes about the appearance of Turkish Ottoman rulers. They were poking fun at their arrogance and weight. They even went as far as mocking Napoleon Bonaparte. Bonaparte ordered the arrest of those who such statements. Thus making humor a crime with a grave punishment or even death.

Laughter shows a desire to live; Egyptians resort to sarcasm and humor to express their own viewpoint or evade their problems.

Abdellatif El-Menawy

By the time the British occupied Egypt, people would often meet in cafes to laugh about their colonizers. Which eventually led to the closure of these cafes. (Source: Arab News)

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