Asylum for political refugees is an ancient practice, privilege and problem. It has shown a remarkable capacity for institutional survival, albeit with accommodations, in the vicissitudes of changing international relations. I propose here to review its recent performance and consider its continued utility in the contemporary world.
I. MASS INFLUX OF FUGITIVES
Cyrus, after the conquest of Sardes, had placed Pactyas, a native, in a position of trust in the occupied city; but no sooner was Cyrus gone than Pactyas organized a revolt against the new regime. When he learned that Cyrus's troops were on the march to quell the insurrection, he fled in terror to Cyme. Cyrus's military governor then demanded the rebel's surrender, on penalty of that city's destruction. The oracle of the Branchidae, where the Cymeans sought to learn the will of the gods, advised extradition, and the city made ready to abide by the decision. One Aristodicus, however, a citizen of distinction, balked, successfully; a second mission was dispatched to seek out the oracle. The oracle stood pat. Thereupon Aristodicus, who was one of the envoys, circled the temple, removing all birds' nests within reach. The oracle's voice interceded for the birds, bidding Aristodicus to state his case. How then, he said, are you in haste to protect supplicants whilst you command the Cymeans to give one up? Said the voice: Verily, I did so order the Cymeans that they may perish the sooner for their impiety nor ever return to seek my oracle's counsel on the surrender of supplicants.