A lecture hosted by the Department of Classical Studies and featuring James P. Sickinger, Salutatorian of Trinity Class of 1986, Associate Professor of Classics at Florida State University.
Ostracism was a form of temporary exile that allowed ancient Athenian citizens to vote into temporary exile powerful individuals thought to pose a threat to their democracy. The practice took its name from the potsherds—ostraka—onto which voters scratched the names of those persons they wanted to banish. Excavations in Athens have uncovered thousands of these inscribed ballots over the past century, and their study has provided new and often unexpected details not only about ostracism but also about its intended victims and even the literacy of ancient Athenian voters. This lecture discusses some of this material and examines how ongoing excavations and recent publications continue to revise and enhance modern understanding of ostracism and Athenian voting methods.