Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAP. VII.: The same Subject continued. Necessity of composing Laws in a proper Manner. - Complete Works, vol. 2 The Spirit of Laws
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CHAP. VII.: The same Subject continued. Necessity of composing Laws in a proper Manner. - Charles Louis de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu, Complete Works, vol. 2 The Spirit of Laws 
The Complete Works of M. de Montesquieu (London: T. Evans, 1777), 4 vols. Vol. 2.
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The same Subject continued. Necessity of composing Laws in a proper Manner.
THE law of Ostracism was established at Athens, at Argos† , and at Syracuse. At Syracuse it was productive of a thousand mischiefs, because it was imprudently enacted. The principal citizens banished one another by holding the leaf of a fig-tree‡ in their hands; so that those who had any kind of merit withdrew from public affairs. At Athens, where the legislator was sensible of the proper extent and limits of his law, ostracism proved an admirable regulation: they never condemned more than one person at a time; and such a number of suffrages were requisite for passing this sentence, that it was extremely difficult for them to banish a person whose absence was not necessary to the state.
The power of banishing was exercised only every fifth year: and indeed, as the ostracism was designed against none but great personages who threatened the state with danger, it ought not to have been the transaction of every day.
[† ]Arist. Repub. lib. 5. chap. 3.
[‡ ]Plutarch, life of Dionysius.