Essay about Lysistrata by Aristophanes

Essay about Lysistrata by Aristophanes

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In what ways is Lysistrata a woman behaving badly in her own cultural context?

Women can be seen as behaving badly thought the entire of history, yet the cultural context to which they belong defines what is bad and what is not. Context has been seen to effect values and attitudes to a great extent, therefore determining how a text should be viewed. Lysistrata by Aristophanes was written in ancient Greek times, so Lysistrata must be viewed as a woman behaving badly in regard to the values and attitudes of her time. In the following paragraphs Lysistrata as a woman behaving badly in the cultural context of ancient Greece, will be discussed.

In the opening of the play, Lysistrata calls a meeting with all the women, and women representatives from Athens and Sparta to discuss what they should do about the war, “I’ve called a meeting to discuss a very major matter…” as stated by Lysistrata when she is waiting for the other women to arrive. This is her behaving badly in ancient Greek times as women weren’t supposed to call meeting of any form, this was seen as a male privilege because women were not viewed at intelligent enough. The men, however, do not respond to Lysistrata calling a meeting, as they do not know of the uniting of the women until they have taken the Acropolis.

The meeting is called to discuss Lysistrata’s idea on how they can stop the men from waging war her idea is renouncing sex. “Very well then. We must renounce – sex…” Lysistrata telling the women for the first time what they need to do and Myrrhine taking the vow on behalf of all the women, “But I will never willingly yield myself to him.” - talking about their husbands. This is Lysistrata acting badly as in ancient Greek times, as sex was expected from women by men, women had not charge over their bodies and sex was not something they had the power to give or deny at will. The men react to this in such a way that suggests they can’t live without sex and are settle the whole war over the assurance from Lysistrata that their wives will be returned to them once they do so, “Allies, ma’am? Look at the state we’re in! We know what the allies will want: the same as we do – a fuck!!”

Lysistrata’s next move is to capture the Acropolis with the help of the other women. “[All the women retire into the Acropolis, and the doors are closed.]” As directed by a stage cue. This is bad behaviour...


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...mes. The first being her seeing it as her job or role to bring about peace, “Why don’t we ask Lysistrata to join us? She’s the only person who can bring about true reconciliation.” Even though the men have accepted her dominance at that time she is still acting madly by evolving herself in men’s business, peace being related to war and war being a male dominated vicinity.

The final way in which Lysistrata behaves contextually badly in the play, is through her ordering around of the men, “Now you Spartans stand right next to me on this side, and you Athenians on that side, and listen to what I have to say.” Once again at this point in the play the men have accepted Lysistrata’s dominance as it will be the quickest way for them to get what they want, however traditionally she is acting out of place by ordering around her superiors, or how men were viewed in Ancient Greece.

Lysistrata behaves badly throughout the entire play, she behaves badly, verbally and physically, through both her actions and the actions of those who follow her. Yet it may only be viewed as her behaving badly though the context the play was written in as context has a large impact on values and attitudes.

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