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Now no one, unless mad, could be ignorant of all these circumstances together; nor yet, obviously, of (l) the agent—for a man must know who he is himself. But a man may be ignorant of (2) what he is doing, as for instance when people say ‘it slipped out while they were speaking,’ or ‘they were not aware that the matter was a secret,’ as Aeschylus said of the Mysteries1; or that ‘they let it off when they only meant to show how it worked’ as the prisoner pleaded in the catapult case. Again (3) a person might mistake his son for an enemy, as Merope does2; or (4) mistake a sharp spear for one with a button on it, or a heavy stone for a pumice-stone; or (5) one might kill a man by giving him medicine with the intention of saving his life; or (6) in loose wrestling3 hit him a blow when meaning only to grip his hand.

1 Aeschylus was accused before the Areopagus of having divulged the Mysteries of Demeter in certain of his tragedies, but was acquitted. A phrase of his, ‘It came to my mouth,’ became proverbial (Plat. Rep. 563c, etc.), and he may have used it on this occasion.

2 In the lost Cresphontes of Euripides.

3 A style of wrestling in which the adversaries only gripped each other's hands without closing.

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