King Hammurabi of Babylonia (r. 1792-50 BC) set up the famous stelae inscribed with his laws to make a public statement about his authority and his selection by the gods as the shepherd of the people “in order that the mighty not wrong the weak, to provide just ways for the waif and widow, … to provide just ways for the wronged.”  To fulfill this mandate, the state employs what Walter Benjamin termed “law-preserving violence”: violence perpetuated by the state upon its own members in order to reify the state’s authority and position. We see this in ancient Mesopotamia most obviously in the form of dramatic public punishments (including talionic punishments such as an “eye for an eye,” impaling, flogging, etc.) and in the appropriation by the state of the exclusive right to kill its citizens thereby curbing feuds and self-help.