The law of ostracism was established in Athens, in Argos,  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,  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.