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Women And Christianity: Lysistrata By Aristophanes

2074 words - 8 pages

Traditionally in ancient studies of various civilizations, women assume a submissive role as caretaker of the house and family. Generally, this trend continues throughout early organized society until around the time of sixty four A.D. with the rapid spread and judgment of the new religious dynamic of Christianity. The novel faith becomes notorious for the strong ties and companionship between members of the community as well as the appealing views of a compassionate deity and rewarding afterlife. These characteristics attracted women and impoverished peoples of Rome in particular. As the belief system caught on in the Empire many pagans and Emperors such as Nero rejected the faith and began to persecute these people for their beliefs. The cruel sufferings and deaths that Christians endured granted power to not only men of the religion, but also women for their dedication and bravery in declaring their religious beliefs. When analyzing the character of Lysistrata in Aristophanes’ play and Perpetua in the account of her martyrdom, significant differences can be seen in the two women’s leadership roles. While Lysistrata’s derived her authority from lust and manipulation, Perpetua’s authority stemmed from the Christian belief system. Furthermore, with the popularity of Christianity in ancient Rome, society viewed women as equal to men, spiritual leaders, modest and virtuous, and intelligent enough to make their own choices in life.
Aristophanes, the author of this play, creates this satiric comedy to make the point that women, though foolish, can prove to be manipulative as mothers and wives. Lysistrata, believing that women have a voice in politics, enters the play as the leader of Greek women, urging them to maintain peace in mainland Greece during the Peloponnesian War by refusing to have sex with their husbands. The dilemma Lysistrata faces in this play, however, consists of the way in which they choose to gain the upper hand over their men, who traditionally hold a superior role over women in Greek society. Ultimately, she chooses to use manipulation and temptation to her advantage to sway the minds of men. “If we sat there at home in our make-up, and came into their rooms wearing our lawn shifts and nothing else and plucked down below delta-style, and our husbands got all horny…but we kept away and didn’t come to them—they’d make peace fast enough I know for sure” (Aristophanes 80) Lysistrata urges that the women avoid sex by any means, even if they must fight against physical force by their husbands (Aristophanes). By using this tactic of a sex strike applied all over mainland Greece, Lysistrata remains confident that women can persuade men to keep peace as opposed to war. Therefore, evidence suggests in Aristophanes’ play that women such as Lysistrata derives power and authority over men through sex and temptation. Women can only attempt to persuade them due to the fact that men hold too much power to be outright forced to anything.

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