How Apuleius was accused by an old man, and how he answered for himselfe.
O most reverend and just Judges, the thing which I propose to declare to you is no small matter, but toucheth the estate and tranquillity of this whole City, and the punishment thereof may be a right good example to others. Wherefore I pray you most venerable Fathers, to whom and every one of whom it doth appertain, to provide for the dignity and safety of the Commonweale, that you would in no wise suffer this wicked Homicide, embrued with the bloud of so many murthered citisens, to escape unpunished. And thinke you not that I am moved thereunto by envy or hatred, but by reason of my office, in that I am captain of the night Watch, and because no man alive should accuse mee to bee remisse in the same I wil declare all the whole matter, orderly as it was done last night.
This night past, when as at our accustomed houre I diligently searched every part of the City, behold I fortuned to espy this cruell young man drawing out his sword against three Citisens, and after a long combat foughten between them, he murthered one after another miserably: which when hee had done, moved in his conscience at so great a crime hee ran away, and aided by the reason of darknes, slipt into a house, and there lay hidden all night, but by the providence of the Gods, which suffereth no heynous offence to pass unpunished, hee was taken by us this morning before he escaped any further, and so brought hither to your honourable presence to receive his desert accordingly.
So have you here a guilty person, a culpable homicide, and an accused stranger, wherefore pronounce you judgement against this man beeing an alien, when as you would most severely and sharply revenge such an offence found in a known Citisen. In this sort the cruell accuser finished and ended his terrible tale. Then the Crier commanded me to speake, if I had any thing to say for my selfe, but I could in no wise utter any word at all for weeping. And on the other side I esteemed not so much his rigorous accusation, as I did consider myne owne miserable conscience. Howbeit, beeing inspired by divine Audacity, at length I gan say, Verily I know that it is an hard thing for him that is accused to have slaine three persons, to perswade you that he is innocent, although he should declare the whole truth, and confesse the matter how it was indeed, but if your honours will vouchsafe to give me audience, I will shew you, that if I am condemned to die, I have not deserved it as myne owne desert, but that I was mooved by fortune and reasonable cause to doe that fact. For returning somewhat late from supper yester night (beeing well tippled with wine, which I will not deny) and approaching nigh to my common lodging, which was in the house of one Milo a Citisen of this city, I fortuned to espy three great theeves attempting to break down his walls and gates, and to open the locks to enter in. And when they had removed the dores out of the hookes, they consulted amongst themselves, how they would handle such as they found in the house. And one of them being of more courage, and of greater stature than the rest, spake unto his fellows and sayd, Tush you are but boyes, take mens hearts unto you, and let us enter into every part of the house, and such as we find asleep let us kill, and so by that meanes we shall escape without danger. Verily ye three Judges, I confess that I drew out my sword against those three Citizens, but I thought it was the office and duty of one that beareth good will to this weale publique, so to doe, especially since they put me in great fear, and assayed to rob and spoyl my friend Milo. But when those cruell and terrible men would in no case run away, nor feare my naked sword, but boldly resist against me, I ran upon them and fought valiantly. One of them which was the captain invaded me strongly, and drew me by the haire with both his hands, and began to beat me with a great stone: but in the end I proved the hardier man, and threw him downe at my feet and killed him. I tooke likewise the second that clasped me about the legs and bit me, and slew him also. And the third that came running violently against me, after that I had strucken him under the stomacke fell downe dead. Thus when I had delivered my selfe, the house, Myne host, and all his family from this present danger, I thought that I should not onely escape unpunished, but also have some great reward of the city for my paines.
Moreover, I that have always been clear and unspotted of crime, and that have esteemed myne innocency above all the treasure of the world, can finde no reasonable cause why upon myne accusation I should be condemned to die, since first I was mooved to set upon the theeves by just occasion. Secondly, because there is none that can affirm, that there hath been at any time either grudge or hatred between us. Thirdly, we were men meere strangers and of no acquaintance. Last of all, no man can prove that I committed that fact for lucre or gaine.
When I had ended my words in this sort, behold, I weeped againe pitteously, and holding up my hands I prayed all the people by the mercy of the Commonweale and for the love of my poore infants and children, to shew me some pitty and favour. And when my hearts were somewhat relented and mooved by my lamentable teares, I called all the gods to witnesse that I was unguilty of the crime, and so to their divine providence, I committed my present estate, but turning my selfe againe, I perceived that all the people laughed exceedingly, and especially my good friend and host Milo. Then thought I with my selfe, Alasse where is faith? Where is remorse of conscience? Behold I am condemned to die as a murtherer, for the safeguard of myne Host Milo and his family. Yet is he not contented with that, but likewise laugheth me to scorne, when otherwise he should comfort and help mee.