High Risk, High Reward: Clearchus and the Mutiny of the Ten Thousand


This case study examines the risks that a position of leadership entails and the strategies ancient leaders applied to reduce them. Discussing in detail one particular mutiny, the revolt of the Ten Thousand in Tarsus (401 BCE), students will consider how Clearchus balanced risks and gains, personal agendas, and the community’s needs. Clearchus’s precarious position well represents the high stakes of this role while also underlining how the leader’s risks might be physical. Clearchus played a dangerous game with his soldiers, tricking them into giving him their support. But how did he do it? Through the case study and its analysis, we will see how Clearchus relied on emotional appeals to reduce the risks of his position and regain control over the soldiers while pursuing a personalistic agenda.

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