Beyond the Boundaries of Fantasia: An ancient imagining of the future of leadership

I'm Every Woman

Leadership as Protest on the Ancient Comic Stage and in Modern Film

As much as the study of ancient leadership is about the roles and responsibilities of official leaders, real or idealized, it is also about those would-be leaders who were, for one reason or another, discontent with the existing leadership and sought to change it, often by any means necessary: the warrior who thinks his king is greedy and cowardly (see "You Can Go Your Own Way"); the aristocrat who can't seem to climb the political ladder he considers his birthright (see "A Political Thriller c. 63 BCE"); the sailor who thinks his captain is reckless and out of touch (see "Meet the New Boss"); the philosopher who realizes none of the priests, poets, and politicians has a clue about what they are talking about (see "Socrates' Last Stand"). Women in the ancient world were also frequently cast in the role of protester and radical: in Iliad 14 Hera, the queen of the gods, seduces her husband Zeus, in order to give the Achaeans a chance to defeat the Trojans. Antigone, the daughter of Oedipus (see "Stranger than Fiction"), defies her uncle Creon in order to give her slain brother Polyneices a proper burial (see Sophocles' Antigone). In Aeschylus' Agamemnon, Clytaimnestra, the wife of the great king, enters into an amorous and political partnership with her husband's cousin, Aigisthos, and then plots to murder her husband and seize control of the royal court of Mycenae.

In this module we will study the sex strike and seizure of the acropolis orchestrated by the women of Greece, led by Lysistrata, as depicted by the Athenian comic poet, Aristophanes (411 BCE). In this seven-hour module you will do the following:

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