Lysistrata

Bawdy, ribald humor and word play must have delighted the Athenian audiences of 411 BC. After missing an allusion to this play in one of my recent reads, I filled (some of) the gaps in my mind by exploring this work. Basic idea is that the Greek women are tired of the ongoing war, and Lysistrata hatches a sure-fire plan to end it: by withholding sex from men until the war is over. She joins forces with the “enemy’s” women, so that it’s a global curse on the warring men. Both sides agree to end the war, after the men parade around with painful cramps and members at attention. The women also take over the Acropolis and lock away the funds that are used to pay for the war. The translator (Sommerstein) astutely notes the complete absence of female slaves in the play; in other texts it is routinely assumed that a man’s female slaves are sexually available to him. In this work, the only slave that appears is a man, caring for a baby. Lysistrata means “Liquidator of Armies.”