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Besides these two tribunals there is also a third, whose usages are still more sacred and awe-inspiring, for cases in which a man admits the act of slaying, but pleads that he slew lawfully. That is the court held at the Delphinium. It appears to me, gentlemen of the jury, that the first inquiry made by those who originally defined the rules of jurisprudence in these matters was, whether we are to regard no act of homicide as righteous, or whether any kind of homicide is to be accounted righteous; and that, arguing that Orestes, having slain his own mother, confessing the fact, and finding gods to adjudge his case, was acquitted, they formed the opinion that there is such thing as justifiable homicide,—for gods could not have given an unjust verdict. Having formed this opinion, they immediately set down in writing an exact definition of the conditions under which homicide is lawful.

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