Is ostracism always something horrible?

Some concepts and terms that have come to us from the depths of millennia are used today in a somewhat different sense, distorted relative to the original meaning. For example, the uniquely negatively interpreted word "ostracism". This completely democratic popular will, held once a year, entered the modern public consciousness as a designation of extrajudicial reprisals, the expulsion of unwanted and similar signs of authoritarianism, dictatorial arbitrariness and tyranny. And what does it really mean?

ostracism is

Aristotle's view on state interests

Ancient Greek scholar Aristotle believed that the state can be arranged in six basic versions: monarchical, aristocratic, political, tyrannical, oligarchic and democratic. The philosopher considered the first three ways of organizing power to be correct, that is, serving in the general welfare, while the latter, on the contrary, declared the last three undesirable.Moreover, he distinguished two forms of democracy — direct (observant of the interests of the poor only) and ohlocratic, degenerate, in which the crowd, inspired by demagogues, rules everything. The ideal of the state, Aristotle believed polity - the power of the majority, pursuing the common good. So, the great philosopher was of the opinion that ostracism is a fully justified and necessary measure in three cases out of six (incorrect), namely, in a democracy, oligarchy and tyranny. Its application allows to achieve, at least, stability, which was already the basis for the prosperity of any society. So what was the procedure that, in some cases, was approved by Aristotle himself, but so we condemn?



In January (it was, according to the ancient Greek calendar, the sixth tale) Council of the Five Hundred asked the question whether ostracism was needed at all this year. This decision was made by the National Assembly, and its approval meant that a vote would be held in the spring with the participation of all free citizens. The procedure itself was quite simple. Anyone could write the name of a person, in their opinion, extremely exalted,conceited or representing a danger to society, on a clay shard (hence the name: “ostracon” in Greek means a fragment of clay utensils, then the most popular “stationery”) and take your “bulletin” to a specified place. At the same time, an important condition was that it was not any ancient Greek who could have been ostracized, but only an outstanding personality who had reached certain social heights, a well-known and influential one.

Who was expelled?

Sometimes the motive for voters was the envy of excellence in virtues. But more often they expressed their opinion regarding the public danger of their chosen candidate, who was threatened with a ten-year exile, not accompanied, however, by infringement of rights and deprivation of property. If you recruited six or more thousand shards with the name of one person, ostracism was applied to him. This meant that in ten days he should put his affairs in order and leave the city. He was not subjected to any other persecution, and his dignity was not degraded.

cases of ostracism

Ostracism today

So all this in ancient Greece should have happened ideally.Historical documents, however, show that abuses and violations of the law took place already then. The shards "threw in", they traded. All this links the invisible threads of Hellas with our times.

cases of ostracism

By the way, and today there are cases of ostracism. True, this word is not called a general vote, made regularly and according to established rules, but by the actions of some organized group declaring a person it dislikes to be an undesirable person. This happens both in individual groups and on a national scale, as, for example, with A. I. Solzhenitsyn in 1974.

Whether to support a universal boycott of the outcast or to ignore him - today, fortunately, is a personal matter.

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