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Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [O2r p211]

Defensio publica.

Defense of the public interest.

Cum subeunt leges, terrisque Astraea[1] relictis
Evolat, an solis legibus ultor aget?
Vindicibus num fas armis occurrere dextrae,
Quae capiti intentat dira pericla tuo?
Iudice me quando potior sententia, visque
Armorum est, subitò publica tu arma cape.
Ridiculus fueris si litera vertat in hostem,
Codiceque armatum persequerere reum.
Et licet, & semper licuit defendere nostra:
Ritè magistratus vindicat, ultor adest.

When the laws go under, and Astraea flies away, leaving the earth, will there be anyone to enforce the laws alone? Is it right for you to rush with the revenging arms of your right hand against the dangers that stand over your head? In my opinion, when the decision is right, and weapons have force, you should take up public arms. You’ll look a fool if the letter turns against the foe, and you pursue an armed criminal book in hand. It is and always was right to defend what is yours: the magistrate takes revenge as law demands: an avenger is here.


1.  Astraea: enforcer of laws, a star-maiden. She became Virgo when she became a constellation, symbol of Justice.

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