Debt in the Scales: Mechanics and Metaphor in the ancient Mediterranean
2023, Mètis N.S. 21: 1-33.
“Debt in the Scales” understands the metaphor of the scales of justice as a negotiation of the problem of value equivalence: why would anyone ever accept monetary compensation as being “equal” to the wrong done, instead of exacting “an eye for an eye”? This article argues that the scales’ legal import resides in what, conceptually and technologically, the instrument can do: able to render dissimilar things equivalent, the balance makes all objects, including crime and compensation, potentially exchangeable.