Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Interesting History

Our word "ostracize" comes from an old Greek word "ostraka."

In ancient Greece (500 to 415 BC) the people could vote for the removal of a person from their society. First, they would vote to ascertain whether they wanted an ostracism or not. Some years there were no ostracisms. Other years, people were ostracized for various reasons. Some were political, some were ostracized because they were potentially dangerous people, and others were ostracized because some people were just envious of them.

Aristides ("the Just") was an Athenian soldier and statesman known for his honesty, his moral decisions, and his fair treatment of people. It was written of him, "there was not in all Athens a man so worthy or so just as he." In 482 BC, he found out that some were thinking of ostracizing him. He walked up to a complete stranger who was writing the name Aristides on a piece of broken pottery (an "ostraka" - this was their way of voting) and asked, "Who is this Aristides? What has he done that you would vote for his ostracism?"
"He has done no wrong," the man replied. "I am just growing tired of hearing about all his good deeds and what a moral person he is."

Once a majority had voted (minimum 6,000 people) for someone to be ostracized, they had 10 days to leave the city. They could not return for 10 years.

Have you ever felt ostracized? Have you ever been envious of someone and ostracized them (perhaps without even thinking about it?"

Thank you, History Channel, for the history of ostracism. They have a very interesting series called "The Seven Deadly Sins" right now that you should check out!

1 comment:

One Observationist said...

Yep. I've treated people unfairly because I was jealous of them. No doubt about it.

I'm not so sure I've been ostracized, but I have felt unwelcome in some groups which prompted me to leave.

In the context of the church do you think the church should ostracize people?