The Figurative Use Of Wine By Aristophanes In ‘Lysistrata’

October 23, 2020 by Essay Writer


Wine is a symbol for unity in Aristophanes’ Lysistrata. Throughout the play, the women of Athens come together to find peace for their people by refusing to have sex with their husbands. The women take an oath together, and solidify it by drinking wine. This practice of drinking together to establish a relationship is still done today. Women today come together and drink wine to talk, gossip, plan, and so much more. Wine is viewed as a customary symbol for unity throughout Lysistrata and in present-day.

In the play, Lysistrata and the women of Athens work to find peace for the horrible war affecting all of their lives. The women state the things they are willing to give up to end the war. Calonice states, “I’d sacrifice my nicest dress to buy” (Aristophanes 829). Myrrhine states “I’d cut myself in two and donate half- / A flat slice like a bottom-freeing fish”(Aristophanes 829). Their words show their desperation and how they would sacrifice anything to bring their husbands, bothers, fathers, and sons home. They believe the men could find peace, but are being too stubborn to do so. The women come together to figure out a plan. Lysistrata suggests that they “hold off” having sex (Aristophanes 829). The women come together and take oath to refuse being touched by their husbands no matter what. They believe this is the most power, as women, they have and the way to having peace. Lysistrata says “They’ll give up- you’ll see / How fast. No husband’s going to like to screw / Unless he knows his woman likes it too”(Aristophanes 830). This is the power they have over their men. They decide how they should seal the oath as women. They come to the decision to secure the oath with “A big black drinking bowl laid on it back; / A jar of Thasian to sacrifice; / An oath to mix no water with the wine” (Aristophanes 831). The wine is a symbol of their unity. They are binding themselves together as a united front for peace. They know their task is “no easy thing”, but they joined together for a common purpose and sealed it with wine (Aristophanes 830). The wine is used as a symbol to unify their bond. They compared their drinking of wine to “draining the blood from a sheep / into a shield” (Aristophanes 831). This is a custom that must remain unbroken once done, meaning that it unifies them. Unity is defined as being joined together or not easily broken apart. These women used wine as the equivalent to this custom. Women today still use wine as a way to join together. Throughout time, women come together to drink wine and discuss life. The times they spend doing this unifies them and bring them closer together. Growing up I watched my mom, aunts, and grandmothers use wine as a way to become closer and become more united. As I have gotten older, I do the same with my friends and family. This becomes the theme behind the entire play.

To the women of Athens and the women of today wine is a symbol of unification. Lysistrata and the women of Athens seal their oath to work toward their goal of peace. This is the drive behind the entire play and gives readers a better understanding of the play. The women stay true to their oath because of the promise they made to each-other. It makes the overall purpose of the play unique and relatable to our society today.

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