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Introduction: The Universal Experience of Exile

  • Andrew A. Gentes
Chapter
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Abstract

Exile is among the oldest of punishments. The prospect of being expelled by one’s community or dispatched by the authorities evokes profound and universal dread across time and place. Literary traditions from around the world recount how both gods and men have used exile. When Zeus defeated his father Cronus he also banished the other Titans, save Ocean, Hyperion and Mnemosyne. In the Japanese creation myth Nihongi the gods Izanagi-no-Mikoto and Izanami-no-Mikoto give birth to the particularly cruel Sosa-no-wo-no-Mikoto, whom they expel saying, ‘Thou art exceedingly wicked …. Certainly thou must depart far away to the Nether-Land.’ Sosa is banished to the Rock-cave of Heaven, where she is imprisoned behind the Rock-door.l Sophocles uses the exile motif in Oedipus at Colonus, sending the blind and outcast Oedipus to wander with his daughter Antigone through foreign lands. When Oedipus confronts two people he had known when he was king he cries:

These were the two

Who saw me in disgrace and banishment

And never lifted a hand for me. They heard me

Howled from the country, heard the thing proclaimed!

And will they say I wanted exile then,

An appropriate clemency, granted by the state?

That is all false! The truth is that at first

My mind was a boiling cauldron; nothing so sweet

As death, death by stoning, could have been given me … 2

Keywords

Literary Tradition Penal Laborer Universal Experience Siberian History Penal Reform 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

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© Andrew A. Gentes 2008

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