means generally an appointed time: thus in Aeschin. c. Tim.
§ 39, εἴ τις ἄλλη πώποτε τοιαύτη
the scholiast explains the term καταχρηστικῶς ἀντὶ τοῦ χρόνου.
The term is
specially applied (1) to the time which was allowed by law to a defendant
for paying damages, after the expiration of which, if he had not paid them,
he was called ὑπερήμερος
(Harpocr. s. v.;
Suid. s.v. or ἐκπρόθεσμος,
Schol. Dem. c. Mid.
p. 540, 22); the accuser might allow the defendant a longer time than the
law fixed (ἀναβάλλεσθαι τὴν
[Dem.] c. Everg.
p. 1154.49 f.,
(2) Prothesmia denotes the term limited for bringing actions and prosecutions
at Athens. In all systems of jurisprudence some limitation of this sort has
been prescribed for the sake of securing possession, and preventing
vexatious litigation (cf. Isocr. Archid.
τὰς κτήσεις καὶ τὰς ἰδίας καὶ τὰς κοινάς,
ἄν ἐπιγένηται πολὺς χρόνος, κυρίας καὶ πατρῴας ἅπαντες
). The Athenian τῆς
corresponds to our Statute of Limitations.
The time for commencing actions to recover debts,1
or litigation with guardians, appears to have been limited to five
years at Athens (Dem. pro Phorm.
p. 952.26 f., in a δίκη ἀφορμῆς
989.17 f.; p. 993.27; cf. Plat. Legg.
xi. p. 928 C, μέχρι πέντε ἐτῶν ἐξηκούσης τῆς ἐπιτροπῆς ἔστω
δίκην λαχεῖν ἐπιτροπίας
). Inheritance causes stood on a
peculiar footing. When an estate had been adjudged to a party, he was still
liable to an action at the suit of a new claimant for the whole period of
his life (Isae. Dicaeog.
§ § 7, 35, etc.)
and his heir for five years afterwards (Isae. Pyrrh.
§ 58, and Schömann ad l.c.
and p. 432; cf. Dem. c. Macart.
p. 1055.16, lex
). We do not know the limit of time for claiming
who had been already adjudged
by the archon, but Caillemer's suggestion is very probable that she could
not be claimed after having given birth to a son (Le Droit de
p. 42). The liability of bail continued only
for a year, according to Dem. c. Apatur
p. 901.27 (τὰς ἐγγύας ἐπετείους εῖναι
etc. p. 18 ff.) limits this law to
commercial transactions, and Thalheim (Rechtsaltert.
n. 2) quotes C. I. A.
ii. No. 565, 1. 3, No. 1056, No. 1058,
50.20, to show that the liability of sureties for leases continued
It is doubtful whether any period was prescribed for bringing
at least for offences of the more serious kind, though of course
there would be an indisposition in the jury to convict, if a long time had
elapsed since the offence was committed. A charge of wounding with intent
was brought four years after the affair (Lys. c. Sim.
§ § 19, 39); Lycurgus proceeded against Leocrates nearly
eight years after the latter's flight; we know from Lys. pro Sacra Olea,
§ 17, that there was no fixed time
after which the liability of one who had uprooted a moria ceased, but on the
other hand Lipsius concludes from Dem. c. Aristocr.
646.80, that there was a limit of time in a γραφὴ
The γραφὴ παρανόμων
could only be brought against the proposer of a law or psephisma within a
year after the propounding of it (Dem. c. Lept.
p. 453); and the εὔθυναι
against magistrates were limited to a certain
period (Pollux, 8.45), viz. thirty days according to Boeckh,
i.3 p. 242. (Att.
ed. Lipsius, p. 963 ff., p. 838 ff.)