Ostracism in athenian democracy

Biography[ edit ] Historians estimate that Cleisthenes was born around BC.

Ostracism in athenian democracy

Ostracism Ostracism, "the judgment of the potsherds": Athenian juridical practice in which a potentially dangerous person would be exiled from the city without loss of property or civil rights. Ostracon mentioning Hipparchus One of the problems in any democracy is the possibility that a leader arises with too much charisma.

Of course this is not a crime, but people with too much personal influence can become dangerous for the democratic system itself, even when their ideas are not divisive or dangerous.

A well-established democracy can cope with these people, but charismatic personalities can destabilize early democracies and become tyrants as happened several times in ancient Syracuse.

A possible measure to protect democracy would be to exile the man who was too influential, but although a very common way to protect the city from rivalries, this was a harsh measure that was only taken by the community as a whole. In fact, the right to send people away was, like the death penalty, something in which the city-state showed its independence and autonomy.

Ostracism in athenian democracy it was seen as too strong a measure, the ancient Athenians - perhaps the statesman Clisthenes - developed the practice known as ostracism, which can be described as "exile light".

This happened in two stages. If there was no clear majority, this was the end of the matter. But if the people wanted to ostracize a person, a day was set, typically two months later. Every voter was given a potsherd ostrakon on which he wrote down the name of a politician he believed to be potentially dangerous.

Or he asked someone else to do the writing.

Ostracism - Wikipedia

If a certain quorum was reached, the politician who had received most votes was sent away from Athens. The difference with an ordinary exile is that the man who was ostracized remained a citizen, had to leave the city for a fixed period of ten years, did not lose his possessions, and could be recalled - which happened quite often.

Ostracism in athenian democracy

Our sources are unclear about the quorum. Plutarch of Chaeronea says that a grand total of 6, potsherds had to be cast; Philochorus, however, states that the exiled man had to receive 6, votes.

Although the practice was intended to protect the democratic procedures against charismatic politicians, it appears that it was often used by conservatives who already had great influence against politicians who challenged their positions.

On the list of ostracised people belowseveral are known to have been "new men". On the other hand, the first four names belong to people who were associated with the tyranny of the Pisistratids. For example, inthere was a general feeling that the extravagant Alcibiades should leave the city, but after the decision to organize an ostracism had been taken, he found the support of Niciasand together they were able to obtain more votes for someone else, Hyperbolus, a radical democrat.

This ostracism can not be dated. After the ostracism of Hyperbolus, many people were convinced that this practice was outmoded. It was never officially abolished, but from now on, law suits were considered to be a better instrument against too powerful politicians. After a century, the Athenian democracy was well-established and no longer needed ostracism.In these chapters we saw that the Athenian democracy’s moderate use of exile both internally (as symbolized in the institution of ostracism) and externally (as represented in imperial decrees) was key both to Athens’ internal stability and to the maintenance of its empire.

Aug 23,  · Watch video · Ostracism, in which a citizen could be expelled from Athens for 10 years, was among the powers of the ekklesia. The Ekklesia.

Lotteries and elections

Athenian democracy was made up of three important institutions. Ostracism In addition to the legal assassination condoned in the Law against Tyranny, a less extreme method was also available for removing powerful but dangerous men from public life. This was a formal, regular vote for exile, known as ostracism.

Ostracism Ostracism (Greek: ὀστρακισμός, ostrakismos) was a procedure under the Athenian democracy in which any citizen could be expelled from the city-state of Athens for ten years.

In this Book

While some instances clearly expressed popular anger at the citizen, ostracism was often used preemptively. His ostracism left Perikles as the uncontested political leader of the Athenian state.

Useless immediately after the counting, the actual ostraka were simply discarded in . At this time, the Athenian people rose up and seized simultaneously control over decisions of exile and political power.

The close connection between political power and the power of expulsion explains why ostracism was a central part of the democratic reforms.

Cleisthenes - Wikipedia