Greco-roman Culture: Lysistrata Essay

This essay has a total of 1232 words and 4 pages.

Greco-roman Culture: Lysistrata

Aristophanes was a "craft" comedy poet in the fourth century B.C. during the time of the
Peloponnesian War. Aristophanes' usual style was to be too satirical, and suggesting the
outlandish. He shows little mercy when mocking Socrates and his "new-fangled ideas" which
were most likely designed to destroy the cohesiveness of society and lead to anarchy, in
his play The Clouds. The most absurd and humorous of Aristophanes' comedies are those in
which the main characters, the heroes of the story, are women. Smart women. One of the
most famous of Aristophanes' comedies depicting powerfully effectual women is the
Lysistrata, named after the female lead character of the play. It portrays Athenian
Lysistrata and the women of Athens teaming up with the women of Sparta to force their
husbands to end the Peloponnesian War.To make the men agree to a peace treaty, the women
seized the Acropolis, where Athens' financial reserves are kept, and prevented the men
from squandering them further on the war. They then beat back an attack on their position
by the old men who have remained in Athens while the younger men are out on campaign. When
their husbands return from battle, the women refuse to have sex with them. This sex
strike, which is portrayed in a series of (badly) exaggerated and blatant sexual
innuendoes, finally convinces the men of Athens and Sparta to agree to a peace treaty. The
Lysistrata shows women acting bravely and even aggressively against men who seem resolved
on ruining the city-state by prolonging a pointless war and excessively expending reserves
stored in the Acropolis. This in turn added to the destruction of their family life by
staying away from home for long stretches while on military campaign. The men would come
home when they could, sexually relieve themselves, and then leave again to continue a
senseless war.The women challenge the masculine role model to preserve the traditional way
of life of the community. When the women become challenged themselves, they take on the
masculine characteristics and attitudes and defeat the men physically, mentally but most
of all strategically. Proving that neither side benefits from it, just that one side loses
more than the other side.It's easy to see why fourth century B.C. Athenian women would get
tired of their men leaving. Most Athenian women married in their teens and never had to be
on their own, and probably wouldn't know what to do if they did land on their own. The men
leave for war and some don't return because of death or whatever reasons, so now a widow
finds herself on her own, probably with children, and no one to take care of her or her
children. She might be able to enter her male children as a journeyman/ward to a wealthy
family (who either have no male children, or most likely lost their son(s) in one of the
wars) that will raise him. The widow has few prospects. If she's young and attractive
enough with the right domestic skills she might be able to remarry. But her lot isn't too
promising. After all, why would you want a widow, when you could get a "fresh" wife to
"break-in" the way you want and start a family from your own seed?According to Lysistrata
it is easier to untangling multinational politics, stop wars and fighting than the women's
work of sorting out wool. If you just stop war, it's settled, but with wool all tangles
must be physically labored out by hand. Women's work is never done.Lysistrata insists that
women have the intelligence and judgment to make political decisions. She came by her
knowledge, she says, in the traditional way: "I am a woman, and, yes, I have brains. And
I'm not badly off for judgment. Nor has my education been bad, coming as it has from my
listening often to the conversations of my father and the elders among the men."Lysistrata
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