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Lysistrata Work. Essay

3084 words - 12 pages

Lysistrata is a comedy by Aristophanes. Originally performed in classical Athens in 411 BC, it is a comic account of one woman's extraordinary mission to end the Peloponnesian War. Lysistrata persuades the women of Greece to withhold sexual privileges from their husbands and lovers as a means of forcing the men to negotiate peace - a strategy, however, that inflames the battle between the sexes. The play is notable for being an early exposé of sexual relations in a male-dominated society. The dramatic structure represents a shift away from the conventions of Old Comedy, a trend typical of the author's career. It was produced in the same year as Thesmophoriazusae, another play with a focus on gender-based issues, just two years after Athens' catastrophic defeat in the Sicilian Expedition.ANALYSIS"Lysistrata" is a tale which is centered on an Athenian woman named Lysistrata and her comrades who have taken control of the Acropolis in Athens. Lysistrata explains to the old men how the women have seized the Acropolis to keep men from using the money to make war and to keep dishonest officials from stealing the money. The opening scene of "Lysistrata" enacts the stereotypical and traditional characterization of women in Greece and also distances Lysistrata from this overused expression, housewife character. The audience is met with a woman, Lysistrata, who is furious with the other women from her country because they have not come to discuss war with her. The basic premise of the play is, Lysistrata coming up with a plan to put an end to the Peloponnesian War which is currently being fought by the men. After rounding up the women, she encourages them to withhold sex until the men agree to stop fighting. The women are difficult to convince, although eventually they agree to the plan.Ultimately, Aristophanes' Lysistrata is a very telling piece of social and cultural evidence of the role of women in ancient Greece. Despite the fact that he is indeed a man, Aristophanes does a good job capturing certain aspects of his female characters: their drive to succeed, their natural coquettishness, the general desire to end war diplomatically, and their devout servitude to the gods. Aristophanes also has a very firm grasp of the social situation of women in his time. For example, he knows where the line of rebellion would be drawn: if the husbands forced the wives into having sex, they must relent. He knows how the ultimately defer to their husbands' judgment, particularly in political matters. Lastly, he knows that their concerns are chiefly domestic. However, he generally misunderstands or misrepresents many aspects of the female character. The feminist literary critic would be quick to point these discrepancies out.BIOGRAPHYLess is known about Aristophanes than about his plays. In fact, his plays are the main source of information about him. It was conventional in Old Comedy for the Chorus to speak on behalf of the author during an address called the...

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