Women’s Role In Ancient Greek Society As Portrayed In Aristophanes’ Play Lysistrata

June 7, 2022 by Essay Writer

Theatre had been seen in ancient Greece. It had been performanced for Dionysos God of vine in differences celebrations. There were two type of theatre at first; these were tragedy and comedy. One of the important playwrigth of comedy were Aristophanes who had lived in ancient Greece. And he is called as “Father of comedy”. Actually he gave example of the comedies that called “Old comedy”. One of the his comedies is “Lysistrata”. In this play, women try to stop the war of Peloponnesian between Athens and Sparta. Because of that they make a plan about finishing the war.

At first Lysistrata gathers the women of all Greece to explain the plan. When all women come, she tells them about plan. The plan is that women do not let their husbands have sex with them. At first women do not want to accept this plan but Lysistrata persuades them saying that will bring the peace. Women believe her and accept because their husbands are always in war and they are malcontent about that situation. They go to Aeschylus and take a sheep and swear upon a bucler and say they will not have sex with their husbands until the peace come. Then, they started to wait, expecting that the war finishes. When they have been waiting, some women want to run but Lysistrata catches them.

Once a husband of the women come to bring his wife home. He wants to have sex with her. His wife pretends that se wants, too but she does not. And finally men could not endure anymore and tell that they finish the war as long as their wives come back to their homes with them and promise that they really finish the war. Women go back to their husbands. At the end of play, people organize a celebration. In this essay the play of “Lyisistrata” is analyzed.

Let’s start with title. It is “Lysistrata”. It is the name of a character in this play, actually name of pratogonist. And keep on with the starting sentences of play. It stars with speaking of Lysistrata she says ;

“If they were trysting for a Bacchanal,

A feast of Pan or Colias or Genetyllis,

The tambourines would block the rowdy streets,

But now there’s not a woman to be seen

Except-ah, yes-this neighbour of mine yonder”(5).

Here, it can be understood that she is waiting for women to explain her plan about finishing the war and she complains that they are late. She is determined person, believes in her thoughts. She thinks finishing war is “ A tremendous thing”(6). She believes that women will finish the war. She is like a leader of women, she never give up her plan. She goes until the end. The one of the other women character is Calonice, she is the first who comes to meeting of Lysistrata. She is neighbor of Lysistrata. These women are from Athen. The other woman character is Myrrhine. She is from Anagyrus. She is especially seen when his husband comes to bring her but she does not go with him for their mission.

The other woman character is Lampito who comes from Sparta. She comes with two other women who are from Boeotia and Corinth. Their names are not known. The the male characters are Magistrate, Cinesias, Spartans, Athenians. Magistrate may be considered as Antagonist. He comes in the middle of play. He does not believe that women can manage to money. He thinks that it is not like in house. He sends some soldiers to attack women but they run. Cinesias is the husband of Myrrhine. He comes to the Acropolis to bring his wife home. But he is cheated by his wife. Spartans and Athenians are the members of the war. At the end of the play, they accept the womens offers and finish the war. And there is chorus as the old plays have. But there are two chorus of women and me. They are old. They are in conflict and always bicker. The Chorus of Old Men are always out of Acropolis. And, they try to make fire to Acropolis but the Chorus of Old Women hinder that with water and make them wet.

When the plot of the play is thought, the play certainly has an old comedy plot. In old comedies, there is a problem to be solved. It can be seen a problem in that play. The problem is the war, women can not see their husbands much because of the war. They wnat their husbandsto be in home. They try to solve that. As a leader, Lysistrata finds a ridiculous solution that staying far away from the men for men’s sex will. And there is opposition to this plan and some conflicts between women and men. They always say to each others bad things such as defamation. The climax is that Cinesias comes and goes with nothing. But finally the problem is solved to bring peace and all people are made happy. And a celebration is organised.

Time for setting. About places, it is Athen after all. But especially the Acropolis. The events are mostly shown there. The setting of Acropolis is important for that it is the temple of Goddess Athena, Goddess of wisdom and victory in war. And it is told that the money is keep there in the play. About time, there is nothing about it.

When the theme is thought, it may said that there are different themes. One of them is femininity. There are a lot of things about it. The women are seen that they stay at homes and do houseworks, care about their childeren. When they try to finish war, the males make fun to them. But they only want their husband to be at home every time. That is said in journal article like that “All of the incridible diplomatic achivements come only because the women want to make love with their husbands all of the time, and not just when the men are home on furlough.” (Semel, 30). And the other them is peace. Because of it the women make plans, they run the risk of staying away from their husbands. İt is important for women for everyone, actually.

Symbols of the play are wine, the Acropolis and fire and water. The Acropolis is symbol for victory because it is temple of Goddess Athena. Wine is symbol for blood. Women use it as sacrifice instead of a sheep and put it in a bowl. While they are putting, it flow like blood. And fire and water are used by the choruses. Men try to make fire and women try to put out. Maybe that means that women are construvtive while men are destructive.

In conclusion, the play of Lysistrata is worth to read. It helps to understand women place in ancient Greece. They are not seen as individuals like men but when they want, they can do everything.


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