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a procedure under the Athenian democracy in which a prominent citizen could be expelled from the City State of Athens for ten years... The person nominated had ten days to leave the country - if he attempted to return, the penalty was death. Notably, the property of the man banished was not confiscated and there was no loss of status. After the ten years he was allowed to return without stigma... The first victim of the practice, however, was not expelled until 487 BC - nearly twenty years later. Over the course of the next sixty years some twelve or more individuals followed him. The list may not be complete, but there is good reason to believe the Athenians did not feel the need to eject someone in this way every year. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ostracism

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