prolonged absence from one's country imposed by vested authority as a punitive measure. It most likely originated among early civilizations from the practice of designating an offender an outcast and depriving him of the comfort and protection of his group. Exile was practiced by the Greeks chiefly in cases of homicide, although ostracism was a form of exile imposed for political reasons. In Rome, exile (exsilium) arose as a means of circumventing the death penalty (see capital punishment). Before a death sentence was pronounced, a Roman citizen could escape by voluntary exile. Later, degrees of exile were introduced, including temporary or permanent exile, exile with or without loss of citizenship, and exile with or without confiscation of property. The Romans generally determined punishment by class, applying sentences of banishment to the upper classes and sentences of forced labour to the lower classes.
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