Hōrisen

Statute-of-Limitations-image-5.3.18

Ὁ μὲν τοίνυν νόμος, ὦ ἄνδρες Ἀθηναῖοι, σαφῶς οὑτωσὶ τὸν χρόνον ὥρισεν· Ἀπολλόδωρος δ’ οὑτοσὶ παρεληλυθότων ἐτῶν πλέον ἢ εἴκοσιν τὴν ἑαυτοῦ συκοφαντίαν ἀξιοῖ περὶ πλείονος ὑμᾶς ποιήσασθαι τῶν νόμων, καθ’ οὓς ὀμωμοκότες δικάζετε. καίτοι πᾶσι μὲν τοῖς νόμοις προσέχειν εἰκός ἐσθ’ ὑμᾶς, οὐχ ἥκιστα δὲ τούτῳ, ὦ ἄνδρες Ἀθηναῖοι. δοκεῖ γάρ μοι καὶ ὁ Σόλων οὐδενὸς ἄλλου ἕνεκα θεῖναι αὐτὸν ἢ τοῦ μὴ συκοφαντεῖσθαι ὑμᾶς. τοῖς μὲν γὰρ ἀδικουμένοις τὰ πέντ’ ἔτη ἱκανὸν ἡγήσατ’ εἶναι εἰσπράξασθαι· κατὰ δὲ τῶν ψευδομένων τὸν χρόνον ἐνόμισεν σαφέστατον ἔλεγχον ἔσεσθαι. καὶ ἅμ’ ἐπειδὴ ἀδύνατον ἔγνω ὂν τούς τε συμβάλλοντας καὶ τοὺς μάρτυρας ἀεὶ ζῆν, τὸν νόμον ἀντὶ τούτων ἔθηκεν, ὅπως μάρτυς εἴη τοῦ δικαίου τοῖς ἐρήμοις.
(Demosthenes, Or. 36.26-27)

So the law, men of Athens, defines the time quite clearly. But this man Apollodorus, after the passing of more than twenty years, is asking you to set his malicious accusation above the laws in accordance with which you are sitting as sworn judges. But you are expected to attend to all the laws, and not least to this one, men of Athens. It seems to me that Solon enacted it for no other purpose than to protect you from malicious accusations. He considered that the period of five years was sufficient for victims to obtain redress. He believed that time would provide the surest refutation of liars, but he also realized that it was impossible for contracting parties and witnesses to live forever, and so he enacted this law to replace them and to be a witness of justice for those who have no one to support them. (tr. Douglas M. MacDowell)

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