The procedures involved in, and duration of, Athenian trials have been the subject of much attention, and it is the communis opinio that a public trial in Athens lasted for one day only. Yet the evidence for this is mostly circumstantial and difficulties arise when one tries to reconcile a lengthy trial, as evidenced by the existence of very long speeches, with a one-day trial period. The purpose of this note is to question the standard view and to put forward the suggestion that certain trials could extend up to two or three days in length. By way of introduction we may summarize what evidence we have.
According to AP 67.1 only one public (as distinct from private) case per day was tried in a court of law and the modern assumption is that the issue had to be resolved by the end of that day. Therefore, the speeches of both prosecution and defence were of a fixed length of time and measured by the κλεψύδρα. This was a large amphora with a plugged hole at the bottom which was filled with water.