640. Agreeing With an Adversary

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According to the Roman law, if a person had a quarrel which he could not settle privately he had the right to order his adversary to accompany him to the praetor. If he refused, the prosecutor took some one present to witness by saying, “May I take you to witness?” If the person consented he offered the tip of his ear, which the prosecutor touched; a form which was observed toward witnesses in some other legal ceremonies among the Romans. Then the plaintiff might drag the defendant to court by force in any way, even by the neck (see Matt. 18:2828But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. (Matthew 18:28)), but worthless persons, such as thieves and robbers, might be dragged before a judge without the formality of calling a witness. If on the way to the judge the difficulty was settled, no further legal steps were taken. See Adam's Roman Antiquities, 12Th Ed., p. 98.
To this custom our Saviour refers in the text. When the accused is thus legally seized by the accuser, he is urged to make up his quarrel while on the way to the judge, so that no further legal process be had.