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[48] Why, even slaves who have murdered their masters and been caught red-handed are not put to death by the victim's own relatives; they are handed over to the authorities as the ancient laws of your country ordain. If it is a fact that a slave is allowed to give evidence that a free man is guilty of murder, if a master can seek vengeance for the murder of his slave, should he see fit, and if a court can sentence the murderer of a slave as effectively as it can the murderer of a free man,1 it follows that the slave in question should have had a public trial, instead of being put to death by you without a hearing. Thus it is you who deserve to be on trial far rather than I, who am being being accused this day so undeservedly.

1 i.e., (1) The slave could have been cited as a witness in court. (2) It is a criminal offence to put to death a slave belonging to someone else. (3) Anyone who commits such an act can be prosecuted for murder. (2) is of course a deliberate distortion of the facts, as the slave in question had become the property of the prosecution by purchase (cf. 47); and with it (3) loses its force.

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