Use the following persistent identifier: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hul.ebook:CHS_Benveniste.Indo-European_Language_and_Society.1973.
Chapter 3. Ius and the Oath in Rome
La. tango ‘I touch it’.
Gr. “You must now swear by Venus.”
La. “What shall I swear?”
Gr. “What I am going to dictate to you.”
La. Praei verbis quidvis ‘Dictate to me anything you like in words …’1335
Gr. “Take hold of this altar.”
La. “I do so.”
Then comes the text of the oath, which is formulated by Gripus in the form in which it has to be repeated by Labrax.
ne arbitri dicta nostra arbitrari queant
This already makes it plain that the sense of “witness” does not adequately render the force of the word.
dum memoramus, arbitri ut sint, qui praetereant per vias
ita per impluvium intro spectant.
These passages show clearly the difference between testis and arbiter: the testis is in full view of, and known to, the parties in question; the arbiter sees and hears without being seen himself. The character in Miles 1137 expressly states this: if he does not take precautions, everything will take place in the sight of an arbiter without the parties knowing it. In law the evidence of an arbiter is never invoked as testimony, for it is always the idea of seeing without being seen that the term implies.