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Characterization Of &Quot;Lysistrata&Quot; Essay

834 words - 3 pages

Lysistrata, first produced in 411 B.C. is a play that represents the frustrations that Athenian women faced due to the Peloponnesian War. Lysistrata, an Athenian woman is the play's heroine; her name is significant in itself, as it means "she who disbands the armies" (Page 467, footnote 2). With the aide of other Athenian women, Lysistrata organizes a "sex strike" in an effort to cease further violence and bring peace between Athens and Sparta. Eventually, her campaign is adopted by the women of Greece, and the efforts of the Athenian women are successful. Lysistrata is not only a leader for Athenian women; she is also bold and does not represent the stereotype of traditional, domestic Athenian women.

First, Lysistrata is clearly identifiable as a leader for Athenian women. In the beginning of the play, Lysistrata secretly organizes a meeting between all the women of Greece to discuss a strategy to end the Peloponnesian War "if the women will meet here - the Spartans, the Boeotians, and we Athenians - then all together we will save Greece" (Page 468, 40-42). During the meeting, which Lysistrata leads, Lysistrata suggests to the women of Greece to withhold sex from their husbands. The women are hesitant and some refuse "I won't do it! Let the war go on" states Myrrhine, an Athenian woman (Page 470, 132). However, with Lysistrata' encouragement, the women swear an oath to withhold sex from their husbands until a treaty of peace is signed. Also, throughout the play, Lysistrata continuously directs, instructs and coaches the women of Athens on how to behave. Furthermore, the men call upon Lysistrata to make the treaty between Sparta and Athens "Only Lysistrata can arrange things for us; shall we summon her?" (Page 494, 1126-1127). This also contributes to the fact that she is a leader by consideration not only from the women of Greece, but also the men of Greece.

Next, Lysistrata is bold. Lysistrata does not allow herself to be "bullied" by the Athenian Magistrate nor the Leader of Men. In fact, when the Magistrate commands his officers to take Lysistrata into custody; Lysistrata orchestrates her own defense. She is obviously not intimidated by the Magistrate' police officers, as one approaches her, she states "if he lays a finger on me, he'll pay for it, even if he is a public servant" (Page 478, 426-427). As a result, the Magistrate's police officers retire in terror and do not take Lysistrata into custody as...

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