Innocent Until Proven Guilty

Numerium Narbonensis paulo ante rectorem, accusatum ut furem, inusitato censorio vigore, pro tribunali palam admissis volentibus audiebat, qui cum infitiatione defenderet obiecta, nec posset in quoquam confutari, Delphidius orator acerrimus, vehementer eum impugnans, documentorum inopia percitus, exclamavit: “Ecquis, florentissime Caesar, nocens esse poterit usquam, si negare sufficiet?”

Contra quem Iulianus prudenter motus ex tempore, “Ecquis,” ait, “innocens esse poterit, si accusasse sufficiet?”

When Numerius, a little while before governor of Narbo, was accused of embezzlement, Julian heard him with unusual critical interest, with anyone who wanted admitted openly before the tribunal. And when [Numerius] defended himself by denying the charge, and could not be confuted in any point, Delphidius, a very sharp orator, incited to impugn Numerius vehemently because of a lack of actual evidence, exclaimed: “Can anyone, O Caesar most fine, ever be guilty, if it suffices to deny it?”

Against which Julian was inspired to say, on the spot, “Can anyone be innocent, if it suffices to accuse him?”

Ammianus Marcellinus, Res Gestae 18.1.4

———

Thanks, dear reader, should you ever find me, for not prosecuting me for embezzlement.

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About philokalos

Philologist, historian, and lover of great books, I started this blog to keep myself alert to the beauty of what I see amid the demands of my work.
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