Exiling a Christian cleric in Late Antiquity—something that happened hundreds of times between the fourth and the sixth centuries—was like throwing a stone in a pond. It often generated a spectacular splash that served to make a statement about the rightfulness and agency of the exiler through an act of deterrence, humiliation, but also mercy. It separated the cleric from his previous surroundings, immersing him in an unfamiliar and at times unpleasant environment. Yet, exiling a cleric also often created an enormous ripple effect that was felt by people and in places far removed from the initial rupture and a long time after it had subsided.

Over the last decades our...

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