Ostracism

Definition

Ostracism was a political process used in 5th-century BCE Athens whereby those individuals considered too powerful or dangerous to the city were exiled for 10 years by popular vote. Some of the greatest names in Greek history fell victim to the process, although, as the votes were often not personal but based on policies, many were able to resume politics after they had served the statuary 10 years away from their home city. Nevertheless, ostracism was the supreme example of the power of the ordinary people, the demos, to combat abuses of power in the Athenian democracy.

More about: Ostracism

Timeline

  • c. 508 BCE
    According to Aristotle, the institution of ostracism is introduced in Athens under Cleisthenes.
  • c. 487 BCE
    The first ostracism vote takes place in Athens and Hipparchus is exiled.
  • 482 BCE
    Aristides is voted in an ostracism in Athens and exiled from the city.
  • c. 471 BCE
    The general and statesman Themistocles is voted in an ostracism and exiled from Athens.
  • 461 BCE
    Cimon is voted in an ostracism in Athens and exiled from the city.
  • c. 417 BCE
    In the last recorded ostracism the demagogue Hyperbolos is exiled from Athens.
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