NHA Logo

The Assembly in the Athenian government was composed of free men over 30 who had a small amount of property. They were very important because they made proposals to the Counsel for governmental action. They had one extremely powerful tool which was intended to protect the country from military leaders who could take over the country.

At any time, a majority of citizens could vote to ostracize any man who appeared to be a threat to the state. Votes to ostracize someone were cast by writing his name on a pot shard (ostraka) and tossing it into an urn. This helped assure that the most ambitions leaders would behave themselves. If the Assembly ostracized you, it was not shameful and your property would not betaken away from you. In other words, it did not mean you broke any laws, it just meant that they didnt want you around because you upset too many people.

Ostracize: When a person acts in a way that is not acceptable to a group of people they can get rid of that person by ignoring them or, in the case of Athens, forcing them to leave.

Click to Return to Ancient Greece Index