The essence of the project is to establish the original purposes of Athenian ostracism, a systemic mechanism of Athenian democracy making it possible every year to remove from Athens one of the political leaders of the community. I will study the history and functioning of ostracism, as well as the role served by ostracism in the democratic system. My hypothesis is that the original purpose of ostracism was to create a political “whip” limiting the rivalry of the bickering Athenian elites and thus stabilising Athenian political life. As long as this mechanism worked, Athenian politicians were able to come to an agreement to avoid one of them being exiled. Historically, ostracism occurred only in exceptional situations, at times of great tension, when a politician decided to risk an all-out confrontation with his opponents. That is why ostracism was applied for the first time twenty years after the introduction of this institution in Athens; later exile of this type happened very rarely.