Becoming a Leader in a Crisis: Gender and Ethical Dimensions in Ancient Greece


This case encourages students to consider the importance and dynamics of gender in terms of leadership in a crisis, and to weigh complex decisions in ethical terms. Students will consider who becomes a leader in a crisis, how successful they are, how they are evaluated afterwards, and what they choose to do once the status quo is restored. Although women in ancient Greece rarely possessed basic political rights, Aretaphila of Cyrene became an influential leader in her community during a period of tyrannical rule. She used a combination of intelligence, manipulation, boldness, and luck to restore her city’s government to its citizens, and then refused an offer of legitimate political rights in order to live out her days in quiet.

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