Aristophanes’s play Lysistrata
Lysistrata, Aristophanes’s comedy was initially performed in 411BC in classical Athens. The play is a comically accounts the unusual mission of ending Peloponnesian war by one woman. Lysistrata, the main protagonist of the play manages to persuade Athenian women to deny their lovers and husband sexual privileges as a way of compelling men to come up with a peace strategy. However, this strategy instead of fostering peace it strokes conflict
between men and women sexes. The play exposes the sexual relations in a society dominated by men. It is undoubtedly clear that Lysistrata is a master strategist in this play who gives action directives behind the scene. She not only gives instruction on how women should act when they are with their lover or husbands, but she also observes and carefully coaches them. This is well exhibited with how she coaches Myrrhine before the arrival of her husband Kinesias, and she even goes ahead to monitor to ensure that this is full filled. Lysistrata comes out as an action overseer and who is separated from play action and other women characters of the play, as she is not involved in the Akropolis seizure and sexual strikes. She is a mastermind of these two events but ironically, she does not participate or take part in the course of their action.
This earns her respect from male characters of the play as she has no known husband or lover and does not exhibit sexual desires. In addition, Lysistrata does not flirt with men, and this even makes the delegates and commissioner to respect her more than other women do. When deliberating issues, Lysistrata comes out as serious and smarter woman full of wit. This is evident at the end of the play when Athenian men call her to make a peaceful treaty between Athens and Sparta. In reality, the scenario where a woman negotiates between states is fictional because Athenian classical women had privileges of voting. The fact remains that the idea of women ending war in ancient Sparta and Athens could not be conceived in the first and that, it was ridiculous and silly to members of the Greek audience. However, Lysistrata rejects the idea of stereotyping women’s role as purely domestic by taking the stages and becoming a great political voice in the Athenian society that was dominated by male. However,it is also argued that Lysistrata represented traditional religion and this may be the reason her social ranking is high and she appears separated from other women . Ancient priestess in Athens were given a honor to perform rituals to appease a goddess and this explains why Lysistrata had an ability to lead women to Athenian temple and call women meetings in Greece.
Another important aspect of the play is the Lysistrata’s chorus that is divided into two; men’s chorus and women’s chorus. These two choruses have unbelievable comic elements, and they are fragile and old. In the play, it quite obvious that at the state, the rival groups have little or negligible sexual tensions because choruses’ members have all passed their prime time. It is at this juncture that Lysistrata decide to send Athenian old women to take akropolis as they could be used in the sex strike, or their effect could have little impact. The ironic twist of this old women’s chorus is that it becomes more useful than the chorus of sex striking young ladies. In addition to taking akropolis, Women’s chorus also defends it against men’s chorus. Men’s chorus is dumb and is totally overpowered by
women both mentally and physically. The choruses play an important role of paralleling play actions. For example, when tension between women and men surge, hostility between choruses increases too. These competing choruses are enjoined together as one entity after the declaration of peace. These female and male choruses are meant to show that political and domestic lives of Athenian people is dependent on each other. Just in the same way Athens and Sparta, kinesias and Myrrhine, men of Koryphaios and women of Koryphaios, choruses are reconciled when peace is declared. In addition, choruses are also meant to portray events in the play within the context of historical and religious tradition of the greeks.
Kinesias in the play is used to prove that not all men are clever. Kinesias is tricked and fooled by his wife and in the play, he comes out as a misogynist-extraordinaire, poor father, and buffon. And just, in the same way, the Greek society characterize a stereotypical or idealized female, it is undoubted that Kinesias represented stereotypical man that was dimwitted. Kenisias is not a responsible man, and he is not even able to care for his children, and because of these, his wife who is playful outwits him. The play uses kinesias to mock sexual desire attributable to both male and female sexes
Lysistrata’s play has been adapted by some segments of modern society to depict pacifist or feminist aims because of its legacy and influence. However, the original aim of the was neither pacifist of feminist. Though dramatic poets empathized with the condition with which women lived, they still stereotyped women. Women were considered as creatures that were irrational and, therefore needed protection. It is for this reason that, men’s conducted was accepted by Lysistrata as women had to respect male authority traditionally.But it is ironical that, these male authorities could not bring an end to war in Athens, and it is a woman who succeeds in negotiating for a peace treaty.