Ideas in Antiquity--Leadership in the Ancient World: From Telemachus to T'Challa

Ideas in Antiquity (Classics 016)--Leadership in the Ancient World

class time: TTH 9:40 a.m.-11:00 a.m. and 12:40 p.m.-2:00 p.m.
professor: Dr. Norman B. Sandridge, Department of Classics, Howard University
office: Locke Hall 264
office Hours: TTH 2:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m. (and by appointment)
office phone: 202-806-6747

I had always been smart, but I needed to test myself against those who were smarter, more talented, and more accomplished. My ability to dream meant hearing about, and entering, worlds far different from my own. Athletes are encouraged to test themselves against better players. Proverbs tells us that iron sharpens iron. So too does ambition sharpen ambition. Dreams hone other dreams.--Stacey Abrams (Minority Leader: How to Lead from the Outside and Make Real Change, p. 8, 2018)


In this course we will study the process of "becoming a leader" as it is represented in literature, film, and personal testimonial, beginning with ancient works (Homer's Odyssey, Sophocles' Philoctetes, Xenophon's Education of Cyrus, Aristophanes' Lysistrata, and Plutarch's Virtues of Women) and continuing to more recent works of literature (the writings of Ida B. Wells, Jorge Luis Borges' "The Dead Man", and Larry Kramer's The Normal Heart) and contemporary movies and performances (Hannah Gadsby's "Nanette", Disney's Moana, and Ryan Coogler's The Black Panther)

This course satisfies the Divisional A requirement of General Education.


Students are required to purchase only one book for this course (Larry Kramer's The Normal Heart, see below), to have access to Hannah Gadsby's "Nanette" (now on NetFlix), Disney's Moana, and The Black Panther. All of the other required texts are linked below.

For writing assistance students are encouraged to consult Darling’s Grammar linked here.
Homer's Odyssey, Books 1-2 

Sophocles' Philoctetes 

Xenophon's Education of Cyrus 

Aristophanes' Lysistrata 

Plutarch's Virtues of Women 

Jorge Luis Borges’ “The Dead Man” (“El Muerto”)
Ida B. Wells' Southern Horrors, "The Requisites of True Leadership"
Larry Kramer's The Normal Heart 
 (click for purchase on for $6.39)
Hannah Gadsby's "Nanette"
Disney's Moana
Ryan Coogler's The Black Panther


We will focus on understanding and embodying the following core leadership skills and behaviors:


Student performances will be measured by weekly, fact-based quizzes (20%); weekly journals (30%); class participation and attendance (30%); and a midterm and final project (10% each). For more on grading follow this link.


Classroom Conduct

Students are expected to engage their classmates in respectful discussion at all times, within class and without. We operate under the assumption that we are all honestly seeking the truth, however much we may disagree. Students are welcome to bring food to class, so long as it does not interfere with note-taking and discussion. Students may also take notes on laptops and smart phones and search the internet for information relevant to the discussion. Students may not text, surf the internet, read the newspaper, work on an assignment for another class, or engage in email/text correspondence.

Honor Code

Students are expected to adhere to the Honor Code as described by the Howard University Student Handbook (see pp. 13–14). Any student who engages in plagiarism or cheating on exams or quizzes will receive an F for the course and the infraction will be reported to the Dean’s Office according to the procedure outlined in the Student Handbook.

Make-up assignments

There are no opportunities for making up quizzes or turning in weekly journals late without documentation and approval from the instructor and Student Services. We will have approximately twelve or thirteen quizzes in the course; I will divide your total quiz points by ten, so that in effect your two lowest (or missed) quizzes will not affect your final grade. Students who register late for class will not be allowed to make up assignments they have missed and will receive a zero for all work missed.

Writing Matters

From CETLA: "Writing is an essential tool for thinking and communicating in virtually every discipline and profession. Therefore, in this course I expect you to produce writing that is not only thoughtful and accurate, but also organized, clear, grammatical, and consistent with the conventions of the field. If your writing does not meet these standards, I may deduct points or ask you to revise. For assistance with your writing, go to the student section of the Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) website:"

Statement on American Disabilities Act (ADA) Procedures:

Howard University is committed to providing an educational environment that is accessible to all students. In accordance with this policy, students in need of accommodations due to a disability should contact the Office of the Dean for Special Student Services for verification and determination of reasonable accommodations as soon as possible after admission to the University, or at the beginning of each semester. The Office of the Dean for Special Student Services can be reached at (202) 238–2420.

Statement on Interpersonal Violence:

Howard University takes sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, stalking and sexual harassment seriously. If a student reveals that he or she needs assistance with any of these issues, all Responsible Employees, which includes faculty, are required to share this information with the University Title IX Office (202) ‎806–2550 or a student can be referred for confidential services to the Interpersonal Violence Prevention Program (IVPP) (202) ‎238–2382 or University Counseling Services (202) ‎806–6870. For more information about these services, please go to www.CampusSafetyFirst.Howard.Edu.

From the Office of the Dean of COAS

“Only students whose names appear on the official course roster are permitted to attend classes. Students who are not registered are not permitted to attend or participate in course activities, do not have access to Blackboard, cannot submit course assignments, and will not receive a grade for this course. It is the students’ responsibility to ensure that they are properly registered by the published registration deadline. Requests to add courses after the deadline will not be considered.“


Click on the Table of Contents Button in the Top Left corner of the page to navigate the course schedule.

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