1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Exile

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EXILE (Lat. exsilium or exilium, from exsul or exul, which is derived from ex, out of, and the root sal, to go, seen in salire, to leap, consul, &c. ; the connexion with solum, soil, country is now generally considered wrong), banishment from one’s native country by the compulsion of authority. In a general sense exile is applied to prolonged absence from one’s country either through force of circumstances or when undergone voluntarily. Among the Greeks, in the Homeric age, banishment (φυγή) was sometimes inflicted as a punishment by the authorities for crimes affecting the general interests, but is chiefly known in connexion with cases of homicide. With these the state had nothing to do; the punishment of the murderer was the duty and privilege of the relatives of the murdered man. Unless the relatives could be induced to accept a money payment by way of compensation (ποινή, weregeld; see especially Homer, Iliad, xviii. 497), in which case the murderer was allowed to remain in the country, his only means of escaping punishment was flight to a foreign land. If, during his self-imposed exile, the relatives expressed their willingness to accept the indemnity, he was at liberty to return and resume his position in society.

In later times banishment is (1) a legal punishment for particular offences; (2) voluntary.

1. Banishment for life with confiscation of property was inflicted upon those who destroyed or uprooted the sacred olives at Athens; upon those who remained neutral during a sedition (by a law of Solon, which subsequently fell into abeyance); upon those who gave refuge to or received on board ship a man who had fled to avoid punishment; upon those who wounded with intent to kill and those who prompted them to such an act (it is uncertain whether in this case exile was for life or temporary); upon any one who wilfully murdered an alien; for impiety. Certain political crimes were also similarly punished—treason, laconism, sycophancy (see Sycophant), attempts to subvert existing decrees. For the peculiar form of banishment called Ostracism, see separate article.

In cases of voluntary homicide the punishment was death; but (except in cases of parricide) the murderer could leave the country unmolested after the first day of the trial. He was bound to remain outside Attica, and when on foreign soil was not allowed to appear at the public games, to enter the temples or take part in sacrifices; but provided that he adhered to the prescribed regulations, he was accorded a certain amount of protection. Even when a general amnesty was proclaimed, he was not allowed to return; if he did so, he might at once be put to death.

Temporary exile (the period of which is uncertain) without confiscation, was the punishment for involuntary homicide. As soon as the relatives of the deceased became reconciled to the man who had slain him, the latter was permitted to return; further, since banishment was only temporary, it is reasonable to suppose that the law insisted upon such reconciliation.

2. Citizens sometimes voluntarily left the country for other reasons (debt, inability to pay a fine). Since extradition was only demanded in cases of high treason or other serious offences against the state, the fugitive was not interfered with. He was at liberty to return after a certain time had elapsed.

Little is known about exile as it affected Sparta and other Greek towns, but it is probable that the same conditions prevailed as at Athens.

At Rome, in early times, exile was not a punishment, but rather a means of escaping punishment. Before judgment had been finally pronounced it was open to any Roman citizen condemned to death to escape the penalty by voluntary exile (solum vertere exsilii causa). To prevent his return, he was interdicted from the use of fire and water; if he broke the interdict and returned, any one had the right to put him to death. The aquae et ignis (to which et tecti “shelter” is sometimes added) interdictio is variously explained as exclusion from the necessaries of life, from the symbols of civic communion, or from “the marks of a pure society, which the criminal would defile by his further use of them.” Subsequently (probably at the time of the Gracchi) it became a recognized legal penalty, practically equivalent to “exile,” taking the place of capital punishment. The criminal was permitted to withdraw from the city after sentence was pronounced; but in order that this withdrawal might as far as possible bear the character of a punishment, his departure was sanctioned by a decree of the people which declared his exile permanent. Authorities are not agreed whether this exile by interdiction entailed loss of civitas; according to some this did not ensue until (as in earlier times) the criminal had assumed the citizenship of the state in which he had taken refuge and thereby lost his rights as a citizen of Rome, while others hold that it was not until the time of Tiberius (A.D. 23) that capitis deminutio media became the direct consequence of trial and conviction. Interdictio was the punishment for treason, murder, arson and other serious offences which came under the cognizance of the quaestiones perpetuae (permanent judicial commissions for certain offences); confiscation of property was only inflicted in extreme cases.

Under the Empire interdictio gradually fell into disuse and a new form of banishment, introduced by Augustus, called deportatio, generally in insulam, took its place. For some time the two probably existed side by side. Deportatio consisted in transportation for life to an island (or some place prescribed on the mainland, not of Italy), accompanied by loss of civitas and all civil rights, and confiscation of property. The most dreaded places of exile were the islands of Gyarus, Sardinia, an oasis in the desert (quasi in insulam) of Libya; Crete, Cyprus and Rhodes were considered more tolerable. Large bodies of persons were also transported in this manner; thus Tiberius sent 4000 freedmen to Sardinia for Jewish or Egyptian superstitious practices. Deportatio was originally inflicted upon political criminals, but in course of time became more particularly a means of removing those whose wealth and popularity rendered them objects of suspicion. It was also a punishment for the following offences: adultery, murder, poisoning, forgery, embezzlement, sacrilege and certain cases of immorality.

Relegatio was a milder form of deportatio. It either excluded the person banished from one specified district only, with permission to choose a residence elsewhere, or the place of exile was fixed. Relegatio could be either temporary or for life, but it did not in either case carry with it loss of civitas or property, nor was the exile under military surveillance, as in the case of deportatio. Thus, Ovid, when in exile at Tomi, says (Tristia, v. ii): “he (i.e. the emperor) has not deprived me of life, nor of wealth, nor of the rights of a citizen ... he has simply ordered me to leave my home.” He calls himself relegatus, not exsul.

In later writers the word exsilium is used in the sense of all its three forms—aquae et ignis interdictio, deportatio and relegatio.

In England the first enactment legalizing banishment dates from the reign of Elizabeth (39 Eliz. c. 4), which gave power to banish from the realm “such rogues as are dangerous to the inferior people.” A statute of Charles II. (18 Car. II. c. 3) gave power to execute or to transport to America for life the mosstroopers of Cumberland and Northumberland. Banishment or transportation for criminal offences was regulated by an act of 1824 (5 Geo. IV. s. 84) and finally abolished by the Penal Servitude Acts 1853 and 1857 (see further Deportation). The word exile has sometimes, though wrongly, been applied to the sending away from a country of those who are not natives of it, but who may be temporary or even permanent residents in it (see Alien; Expatriation; Expulsion).

Bibliography.—J. J. Thonissen, Le Droit pénal de la république athénienne (Brussels, 1875); G. F. Schömann, Griechische Altertümer (4th ed., 1897), p. 46; T. Mommsen, Rönmisches Strafrecht (1899), pp. 68, 964, and Römisches Staatsrecht (1887), iii. p. 48; L. M. Hartmann, De exilio apud Rumanos (Berlin, 1887); F. von Holtzendorff-Vietmansdorf, Die Deportationsstrafe im römischen Alterthum (Leipzig, 1859); articles in Smith’s Dict. of Greek and Roman Antiquities (3rd ed., 1890) and Daremberg and Saglio’s Dict. des antiquités (C. Lécrivain and G. Humbert).