The Adams Papers Digital Edition is undergoing active maintenance while we work on improvements to the system. You may experience slow performance or the inability to access content. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. We will endeavor to return to full capabilities as soon as possible.
. Justinian, Codex,
bk. 9, tit. 16, “§2. Of those who defend their own safety. He who, when in danger
of his life, kills his aggressor or anyone else, should have no fear of prosecution
on this account. “§3. When anyone kills another who attacks him with a sword, he should
not be considered a homicide, for the reason that the defender of his own life is
not held to have committed an offense. “§4. If (as you state) you have killed a robber,
there is no doubt that it will be decided that you have lawfully killed him who had
the intention of depriving you of life.” See 15 Scott, Civil Law
The editors have translated the material following “Liceat” as follows:
“It is lawful (46) to kill with impunity one who attacks by night in the fields, or
blockades the highways, and lies in ambush for passersby, even if he be a soldier.
For indeed it is doubly better to attack, than for an injury suffered to be healed,
and to seek vengeance.
“Note 46. He is not a murderer who, in peril of his life, kills an attacker, nor ought
anyone to wait for the first blow, because it might be irreparable.”