Gesta Romanorum Vol. II (1871)/Of Equity
The emperor Heraclius, amongst many other virtues, was remarkable for his inflexible justice. It happened that one knight accused another of murder, in this form—"That knight went out, in company with another, to war; but no battle was fought. He, however, returned without his companion; and therefore, we believe that he murdered him." The king appeared satisfied with the inference, and commanded the prisoner to be executed. But as they approached the place of execution, they beheld the lost knight advancing towards them, alive and well. The judge, enraged at this interruption of the sentence, said to the accused, "I order you to be put to death, because you are already condemned." Then turning to the accuser, "And you also, because you are the cause of his death." "And you too," addressing the restored knight—"because you were sent to kill the first, and you did not." (38)
My beloved, the king is God: the first two knights, body and soul. The third is any prelate.
- This is justice with a vengeance!
Note 38.Page 207.
This story is told by Seneca of Cneius Piso. De Ira. lib. i. c. 8., and it is found in Chaucer's Sompnour's Tale, who mentions the same authority.