The Macksey Journal


Prosecutions of treason and exile have traditionally been studied as legal phenomena bound by laws and procedures. Yet historical behavior suggests the laws, practices, and attitudes towards treason and exile were primarily motivated by attempts to maintain factional dominance and sociopolitical uniformity. This paper explores how ideas of pollution, disloyalty, and dissent demonstrate the polarized and contested nature of treason and exile in the archaic and classical periods of Athens and Rome. It also seeks to understand the extent to which these ideas contributed to the civil strife of the period. Reflecting on the divisive characteristics of these phenomena that were in turn institutionalized as legal practices, I note that the fundamental motivations and attitudes of the prosecutions remained untempered by norms of procedure or tradition. This project, as part of an ongoing crossdisciplinary study between humanities, history, and social sciences, highlights the need to further study treason and exile, as they represent fundamental questions of civic belonging, loyalty, and unity in a political society.