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[51] Again, the following rule of duty is to be carefully1 observed: never prefer a capital charge against any person who may be innocent. For that cannot possibly be done without making oneself a criminal. For what is so unnatural as to turn to the ruin and destruction of good men the eloquence bestowed by Nature for the safety and protection of our fellowmen? And yet, while we should never prosecute the innocent, we need not have scruples against undertaking on occasion the defence of a guilty person, provided he be not infamously depraved and wicked. For people expect it; custom sanctions it; humanity also accepts it. It is always the business of the judge in a trial to find out the truth; it is sometimes the business of the advocate to maintain what is plausible, even if it be not strictly true, though I should not venture to say this, especially in an ethical treatise, if it were not also the position of Panaetius, that strictest of Stoics. Then, too, briefs for the defence are most likely to bring glory and popularity to the pleader, and all the more so, if ever it falls to him to lend his aid to one who seems to be oppressed and persecuted by the influence of someone in power. This I have done on many other occasions; and once [p. 223] in particular, in my younger days, I defended Sextus Roscius of Ameria against the power of Lucius Sulla when he was acting the tyrant. The speech is published, as you know.

1 Spare the innocent; defend the guilty.

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