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(ŏs`trəsĭz'əm), ancient Athenian method of banishing a public figure. It was introduced after the fall of the family of PisistratusPisistratus
, 605?–527 B.C., Greek statesman, tyrant of Athens. His power was founded on the cohesion of the rural citizens, whom he consolidated with farseeing land laws. His coup (c.560 B.C.) was probably not unpopular.
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. Each year the assembly took a preliminary vote to decide whether a vote of ostracism should be held. If a majority approved holding an ostracism, a day was set for the voting. When the polling took place, each voter put into an urn a potsherd (ostrakon) marked with the name of a person he wished ostracized. The man named on the most ostraka was exiled, unless fewer than 6,000 votes were cast (some authorities believe that a total of 6,000 votes was necessary to ostracize a person). The exile lasted normally 10 years with no confiscation. AristidesAristides
, d. c.468 B.C., Athenian statesman and general. He was one of the 10 generals who commanded the Athenians at the battle of Marathon (490 B.C.) and in the next year became chief archon. In 483 he was ostracized because he opposed the naval policy of Themistocles.
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, CimonCimon
, d. 449 B.C., Athenian general and statesman; son of Miltiades. He fought at Salamis and shared command (with Aristides) of the fleet sent to rescue the Asian Greek cities from Persian domination. From 478 to 477 he helped Aristides form the Delian League.
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, and others were recalled before 10 years were up. The last ostracism was probably that of Hyperbolus (416? B.C.), a demagogue of humble origin. Other cities used ostracism also. Numerous ostraka have been found in modern excavations, many bearing the names of Aristides and Themistocles.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



in ancient Athens, the banishment of certain citizens by order of the popular assembly.

Ostracism was instituted by Cleisthenes at the end of the sixth century B.C. as a measure against the restoration of tyranny. First used in 488–487 B.C., it later became an instrument of political warfare. Once a year the popular assembly decided whether a vote of ostracism should be held. If the majority voted in favor of ostracism, a day was set for the procedure. Everyone having the right to vote in the popular assembly would write on a potsherd the name of any person who, in his opinion, was dangerous to the people. Any individual against whom at least 6,000 votes were cast was obliged to leave Athens within ten days, usually for a period of ten years. (According to other sources, 6,000 was the quorum necessary for the assembly.) Banished individuals did not lose their property or their rights as citizens.

Ostracism was not often practiced. Among those who were ostracized were Aristides (483–482 B.C.), Themistocles (471 B.C.), and the philosopher Damon, the teacher of Pericles (443 B.C.). The last known case of ostracism was in 417 B.C., when the demagogue Hyperbolus was banished from Athens. Similar institutions for banishing citizens existed in Argos, Syracuse, and certain other Greek cities.


Carcopino, J. L’Ostracisme athénien. Paris, 1935.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Individuals who experience ostracism can bounce back by utilizing motivational and adaptive coping strategies including reflection, enriching lacked essential psychological needs, and relying on a nurturing support system (Wesselmann et al., 2015).
Thus, we argue that employees with low clarity about self-concept are likely to be confused, "needy followers," who show disorientation in making charismatic relations and feel workplace ostracism. Employees with low self-efficacy and external locus of control are not able to challenge a destructive leader's behavior (Thoroughgood, Padilla, Hunter, & Tate, 2012).
While ostracism as a clinical term doesn't exist and direct data on its impact are not numerous, its inherent psychological risks include suicide, depression, and trauma, according to another of the panelists, Jacqueline Garrick, MSW, a special assistant, manpower and reserve affairs for the U.S.
However the cultural norms of hospital life also were confirmed as 64 percent were concerned about ostracism by colleagues, 61 percent referred to the expectation that they come to work whether or not they're healthy, and 57 percent were wholly unsure what constituted being "too sick to work."
Confused by this love hate relationship that obsesses him more and more each day; Hubert drifts through the mysteries of adolescence, artistic discoveries, illicit experiences, the opening-up to friendship and ostracism. The turbulent relationship between the two unfolds with a compelling combination of savage fury and melting affection.
Oftentimes, families who ascribe to a Christian way of life similarly adopt this type of ostracism as a way to cope with unacceptable behavior rather than engage in confrontation.
According to Becky, "You sometimes have to do things you don't want to do" for the sake of popularity, and when you are a dork, "you would do anything" to overcome ostracism. Lucy knows her new ring, delivered moments later, is a real diamond.
Lack of support systems and absence of proper counselling ensure that victims disintegrate mentally, given that many prefer not to speak about their plight for fear of social ostracism, and, in extreme cases, are driven to suicide.
Workplace ostracism (WOS), a form of emotional abuse, refers to the extent to which employees perceive that they are ignored or excluded by others in the workplace (Wu, Liu, & Xu, 2010).
Students qualifying for free/ reduced meals do not always take advantage because they fear social judgement or ostracism. Including all students in a free meal program means less stigma for those of lower socioeconomic status, which encourages all students to receive the healthy meals they qualify for at school.
"They only distort the image of Islam by presenting it as a head-hunting creed," Hashem exclaimed, "while Imam Sadr rejected all divisions and ostracism between Muslims, resolving the crisis lies in setting up a patriotic and all-ingathering government," he concluded.