Messenger In the beginning, humans were androgynous. Not only did early humans have both sets of sexual organs, Aristophanes reports, but they were outfitted with two faces, four hands, and four legs. These monstrosities were very fast — moving by way of cartwheels — and they were also quite powerful. So powerful, in fact, that the gods were nervous for their dominion.
She has convened a meeting of women from various city states in Greece and, with support from the Spartan Lampito, she explains to the other women her plan: The women are dubious and reluctant at first, but the deal is sealed with a long and solemn oath around a wine bowl, and the women agree to abjure all sexual pleasures, including various specifically mentioned sexual positions.
A Chorus of bumbling old men arrives, intent on burning down the gate of the Acropolis if the women do not open up.
However, before the men can make their preparations, a second Chorus of old women arrives bearing pitchers of water. An argument ensues and threats are exchanged, but the old women successfully defend their younger comrades and the old men receive a good soaking in the process.
A magistrate reflects on the hysterical nature of women and their devotion to wine, promiscuous sex and exotic cults, but above all he blames the men for the poor supervision of their womenfolk. He needs silver from the treasury for the war effort, and he and his constables try to break into the Acropolis, but are quickly overwhelmed by groups of unruly women with long, strange names.
Lysistrata restores some order after the fracas, and allows the magistrate to question her about her scheme and the war. She expresses pity for the young, childless women, left to grow old at home during the best years of their lives, while the men are away on endless military campaigns, and she constructs an elaborate analogy in which she shows that Athens should be structured as a woman would spin wool.
To illustrate her points, Lysistrata and the women dress the magistrate up, first as a woman and then as a corpse. Eventually, he storms off to report the incident to his colleagues, and Lysistrata returns to the Acropolis.
The debate is continued between the Chorus of old men and the Chorus of old women, until Lysistrata returns with the news that some of the women are already becoming desperate for sex, and they are beginning to desert the cause on the silliest of pretexts such as to air bedding and do other chores and one is even caught trying to escape to a brothel.
Meanwhile, Cinesias, the young husband of Myrrhine, appears, desperate for sex.
As Lysistrata oversees the discussion, Myrrhine reminds him of the terms, and further taunts her husband by preparing an inviting bed, oils, etc, before disappointing the young man by locking herself in the Acropolis again. The Chorus of old women make overtures to the old men, and soon the two Choruses merge, singing and dancing in unison.
The peace talks commence and Lysistrata introduces the Spartan and Athenian delegates to a gorgeous naked young woman called Reconciliation or Peace, whom the delegates cannot take their eyes off.
Lysistrata scolds both sides for past errors of judgement and, after some squabbles over the peace terms and with the naked figure of Reconciliation before them and the burden of sexual deprivation still heavy upon themthey quickly overcome their differences and retire to the Acropolis for celebrations, songs and dancing.
The oligarchic revolution in Athens, which proved briefly successful that same year, was more political fall-out from the Sicilian disaster was. Even while apparently demonstrating empathy with the female condition, Aristophanes still tended to reinforce sexual stereotyping of women as irrational creatures in need of protection from themselves and from others.
Certainly, it seems clear that Aristophanes was not actually advocating real political power for women. It should be remembered that this was a time when women did not have the vote, and when men had ample opportunities to whet their sexual appetites elsewhere.
Indeed, the very idea that a woman could have enough influence to end a war would have been considered quite ridiculous to the Greek audience members.
Interestingly, when establishing the rules of the sex ban, Lysistrata also makes allowance for cases where the woman is forced to yield, in which case they should do so with an ill grace and in such a way as to afford the minimum of gratification to their partner, remaining passive and taking no more part in the amorous game than they are absolutely obliged to.
An added twist to the gender battle arises from the fact that, although the gender roles were reversed with the women acting like men, to some extent, in taking the political initiative, and the men behaving more like womenin the Greek theatre ALL the actors were actually male anyway.
The male characters in the play would probably have worn large, erect leather phalluses. Lysistrata herself, though, is clearly an exceptional woman and, even when the other women waver in their resolution, she remains strong and committed.
She is usually quite separate from the other women: For these reasons, both the magistrate and the delegates seem to give her more respect and, by the end of the play, she has demonstrated her power over men, with even the respected leaders of Greece submissive to her arguments.
For instance, it incorporates a double Chorus which begins the play divided against itself - old men versus old women - but later unites to exemplify the major theme of the play, reconciliationthere is no conventional parabasis where the Chorus addresses the audience directly and it has an unusual agon or debate in that the protagonist, Lysistrata, does almost all the talking, both questions and answers, while the antagonist - the magistrate - merely asks the odd question or expresses indignation.
The character of Lysistrata herself acts very much as the mastermind of the action, and almost at times as an on-stage director.Lysistrata has planned a meeting between all of the women of Greece to discuss the plan to end the Peloponnesian War.
As Lysistrata waits for the women of Sparta, Thebes, and other areas to meet her she curses the weakness of women. Lysistrata plans to ask the women to refuse sex with their husbands until a treaty for peace has been signed. Reading from Behind: A Cultural Analysis of the Anus (The Exquisite Corpse).
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Lysistrata, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
Aristophanes’ great comedy Lysistrata was first performed in the Greek city-state of Classical Athens in BC, when Athenian supremacy in Greece was collapsing. - Aristophanes’ Lysistrata is an excellent example of satirical drama in a relatively fantastical comedy.
He proceeds to show the absurdity of the Peloponnesian War by staging a battle of the sexes in front of the Acropolis, worshipping place of Athena. Lysistrata is the first female lead in a Western comedy, and this alone arguably makes Aristophanes’ play worthy of study and analysis.
Lysistrata is the only one of . Recent Posts. 4 Free NY Times & USA Today Romances, 3 Free Box Sets, Free Kindle Books, 27 Kindle Book Deals; Box Set Party! 5 Free Box Sets Incl. NY Times Bestsellers, USA Today Bestseller Romance, .