“Lysistrata” essay sample

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“Lysistrata” by Aristophanes

“Lysistrata” by Aristophanes as the Satire on the Peloponnesian Wars Anti-war comedy Lysistrata (411 BC) is Aristophanes’ most famous work. Peloponnesian war, described in the play, started in 431 BC between former allies Athens and Sparta and lasted for twenty-seven years wreaking havoc on the social and political harmony of Athens (Martin). The comedy was written on the twenty-first year of the Peloponnesian war when the fortunes of Athens had declined to the low ebb. Renewed fighting on the mainland dragged disastrous loss and made Athenians embark on an expensive rearrangement program. Moreover, operating antidemocratic cliques demoralized the troops even more (Ewans 17).

The main character of the comedy is Lysistrata who calls the women of Greece including representatives from Athens, Corinth, Thebes and Sparta – states at war, to a secret meeting aimed at finding ways to end the killings and destruction. Eventually, women take an oath not to go to bed with their husbands until they sign a peace treaty and the war ends. They take Athens and remain there safe from the attacks of their husbands. Men are suffering great pains. Finally, they come to the meeting ready to discuss a peace in a pitiful condition. Lysistrata gives a reproachful speech. Men, unable to bear deprivation any longer, agree on any conditions. In the end, all men and women celebrate and dance together (Aristophanes).

Aristophanes used the stage to satirize the Peloponnesian Wars and the men’s inability to end it in a political way. He effectively does this by making the war and the negotiation process the women’s issue, portraying the war as pointless destruction fueled by men’s aggressiveness and lack of wits, and making sex strike announced by women an effective means to end the decade-long wars and describing sex with pathos usually associated with the war. The fact that the war and the negotiations become a women’s issue is humiliating and satirizing the Greek warriors and politicians unable to end the Peloponnesian war. In Greece of the time, the politics was purely men’s prerogative, while women had no state positions or political rights. Their rights and duties were those of housewives. Aristophanes proves it in the very beginning in the play. In the time when men are already present for their meeting, women find it hard to summon, because they have so much to do: “Husbands to be patted and put in good tempers, servants to be poked out, children washed or soothed with lullays or fed with mouthfuls of pap” (Aristophanes).

When Calonice, with whom Lysistrata discusses the future meeting, finds out the thing is tremendous and lengthy, she immediately wonders, “Then why aren't they here?” (Aristophanes). There is no misunderstanding between the women about who stands for “they”. She wonders even more when she hears Lysistrata’s suggestion that Greece is going to be saved by a Woman. She does not understand how Greece may be saved by women whose dwelling place in the back …

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