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

Week Seven: Outrage

Sometimes a person might become a leader through extensive mentorship and formal education. But sometimes a person might become a leader because they are just fed up with the status quo and they want to do something about it. This often happens in situations where a potential leader has been left out (or excluded) from the governing process. This week (and next week) we will look at stories from the ancient world where women became fed up with the status quo and did something about it, either individually or as a collective team. Our first example comes from a fifth-century BCE Athenian playwright named Aristophanes, whose play, the Lysistrata, depicts a group of Greek women rising up to put an end to the war that has been raging between two rival Greek city-states (Athens and Sparta) for two decades. 

Session One

Assignment One: Respond to this LEADERSHIP SCENARIO
You are a woman in a country that has been at war with a neighboring country on and off for twenty years. Your husband has already been killed in combat, and you are concerned that your eighteen-year-old son will be drafted soon. In both of these countries women have no political participation: no vote, no opportunity to run for office, and not much access to education. Assemblies of women are a social taboo. Violence as a means of controlling women is tolerated if not encouraged. Your only regular in-person interaction is with members of your extended family and people in your community. From your perspective, the men in power in both countries have lost all interest in peace and both want to win the war no matter how long it takes and no matter how much it costs. What would you do?

  1. What emotions do you expect you would feel (mark all that apply)?

    Outrage at the insensitivity of the male leaders in both countries
    Fear of losing your son
    Concern for the suffering of the people in the other country
    Self-pity that all of these problems have fallen to you to solve
    Resentment toward people who live in more peaceful countries
    Envy for people who live in more peaceful countries
    Worry over whether everything is going to work out
    Paranoia over being caught
    Confidence that you will be able to figure things out and restore peace
    Panic and anxiety over how to handle this complicated situation
    Sadness at losing your husband
    Shame or guilt at the thought that you are not doing enough to save people from dying
    Other (please explain):

  2. Which three of these emotions do you believe you would find it most difficult to manage?

  3. Which three of these emotions do you believe you would find most easy to manage?

  4. For each of these responses rank how easy or difficult you would find it to carry out each of these responses (very difficult, difficult, neutral, easy, very easy):
    Establish an online group for women from both countries to share their experiences in the war.
    Make arguments on social media that women are qualified to participate in government and should be allowed to.
    Criticize the war on social media.
    Encourage the women in your group to meet in person and develop strategies for greater political participation.
    Ridicule, mock, and criticize the male leaders in your country.
    Stand up to the men in your family and community and demand that they work to eliminate the war.
    Contact and work with women hackers to freeze the assets of those financing the war until a peace can be reached.
    Organize a public protest along with the women in the other country.
    Convince the women in your group to use whatever power they have to sabotage the war, including boycotting certain products and withholding sex from their husbands.

Assignment Two: Read Step One of this module on Aristophanes' Lysistrata and complete the "Listening for Leadership" assignment.

Session Two

Assignment: Complete Step Two of the module on Aristophanes' Lysistrata.