Lysistrata of Aristophanes


The Lysistrata of Aristophanes Aristophanes was a satirist who produced Lysistrata around 413 BC when the news of Athen?s warships had been destroyed near Sicily. For twenty-one years, while Athens was engaged in war, he relentlessly and wittliy attacked the war, the ideals of the war, the war party and the war spirit. This risked his acceptance and his Athenian citizenship. Lysistrata is probably the oldest comedy which has retained a place in modern theatre. It primarily deals with two themes, war and the power of sexuality.. Lysistrata (an invented name meaning, She Who Puts an End to War) has summoned the women of Athens to meet her at the foot of Acropolis. She puts before them the easy invitation that they must never lie again with their husbands until the war is ended. At first, they shudder and withdraw and refuse until, with the help of the women from Sparta and Thebes, they are impelled to agree. The women seize the Acropolis from which Athens is funding the war. After days of sexually depriving their men in order to bring peace to there communities. They defeat back in an attack from the old men who had remained in Athens while the younger men are on their crusade. When their husbands return from battle, the women reject sex and stand guard at Acropolis. The sex strike, portrayed in risqué episodes, finally pressure the men of Athens and Sparta to consent to a peace treaty. Ancient Greece in 431 BC was not a nation. It was a collection of rival city-states that were allies with each other or with leading military powers. Athens was a great naval power, while Sparta relied mainly on its army for superiority. In 431 BC, these alliances went to war against each other in a conflict called the Peleponnesian War. The war, which went on for 27 years, is named for the Peloponnesus, the peninsula on which Sparta is located. As the war began, Sparta and Athens each took advantage of their military strengths. Sparta ravaged Attica, the territory around Athens, while the Athenian navy raided cities in Peloponnesus. This strategy lasted for two years. Meanwhile, Pericles? death in 429 BC left the democracy open for hostile factions and reckless leaders who pursued their own advantages. Chief among these leaders was Alcibiades, who was as irresponsible as brilliant. By 425 BC, Sparta?s hopes for victory were bleak, and its leaders were ready to ask for peace. Slowly, however, the fortunes of war changed. Sparta, under general Brasidas, scored significant victories at Chalcidice and Amphipolis. The Athenian leader Nicias persuaded the city to accept Sparta?s offer to cease the war in 421 BC. Everyone was allowed to go home, and the territorial status as it stood at the time of peace, was allowed to remain in place. Athens kept its continental territories and allies, and Sparta kept all the territories acquired. Nicias, however, was a rival with Alcibiades in the democratic assembly. Alcibiades in 415 BC convinced the Athenians to attack the Greek city-states on the island of Sicily and bring them under the rule of the Athenian Empire. In 413 BC, the entire army was defeated, captured and destroyed in the harbor of Syracuse. The disastrous Sicilian expedition left Athens almost completely powerless. By 412 BC, Athens was in distress politically. An oligarchy overthrew the democracy in 411 BC, and then was replaced by a moderate regime. Full democracy was restored in the summer of 410 BC after a significant Athenian victory over the Spartans. In 405 BC, Sparta?s Lysander took his navy northward to Hellespont. He made a surprise attack on Athenian ships at Aegospotami while the crews were dispersed on land. Several thousand Athenians and their allies were slain. Peace was finally signed in the spring of 404 BC. Athens was henceforth to be a Spartan ally and follow the same foreign policy. Lysistrata was the play of peace. The war had been going on for twenty-one years and it seemed to many that it might go on forever. Aristophanes had to devise another route for his theory on the war. He chose the women of Athens and played with their role in Ancient Greece. The war takes men away, and by the time the men return, their women are old. However, it is assumed that they will continue to play the role of