XXIX.7 Continuation of the same subject. The necessity of composing laws well

, par Stewart

The law of ostracism was established in Athens, in Argos, [1] and in Syracuse. It harmed Syracuse in a thousand ways, because it was made without prudence. The principal citizens would banish each other by placing a fig leaf in their hand, [2] so that those who had some merit withdrew from activity. In Athens, where the legislator had felt the extension and the limits he needed to give his law, ostracism was a wonderous thing : only a single person was ever subjected to it,[[[The last person ostracized was Hyperbolos, in 417 B.C.E.] and it took so many votes that it was unlikely anyone would be exiled unless his absence was necessary.

They could banish only every five years ; indeed, once ostracism could be invoked only against one great personage who struck fear in his compatriots, it was not to be an everyday matter.


[1Aristotle, Republic, book V, ch. iii.

[2Plutarch, Life of Dionysius. [The names of those to be expelled were written on olive leaves.]