Essay on Witholding Sex in Aristophanes’ Play Lysistrata

Essay on Witholding Sex in Aristophanes’ Play Lysistrata

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In class we have discussed in great detail the historical background of classical Greece and Aristophanes’ play Lysistrata. Although Aristophanes’ play Lysistrata serves as a useful insight for women’s history during an era in which not a lot of information exists or can be verified, it widens the door to women being mocked and seen only as a form of entertainment.
Aristophanes’ Lysistrata is an original play performed in Athens. It’s a satire piece of centered on the main character a woman named Lysistrata and her attempt in ending the Peloponnesian War. She has a bright idea of withholding sex from the husbands in order to bring a stop to the war.
In class we discussed in detail the historical background of the male dominated society of both Athens and Sparta. The Athenian society was an over populated cosmopolitan colony who grew by trading goods (crafts, fabrics, pottery) in exchange of raw materials. Women where seen as just another piece of property legally under control of their guardian, Kyrio. It was noted that women should not be seen in the day or night. Selectiveness was shown when a child was born. The Spartan society operated on very different terms. The whole community was considered military members. Marriage was not a big deal, no ownership of women, reproduction important and if a woman was a mother they would receive government benefits.

There are numerous ways in which the play is untrustworthy or problematic. First off the author is a man who wrote the play as a comedy. Teenage boys and adult men preform all parts of the play. Audience members consisted of only men or an occasional prostitute. No stage directions exist in the play. Degrading jokes about men having sexual interactions with Spartan men....


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...strate is there to collect silver in order to buy oars for the fleet in order to keep the war going. Lysistrata expresses that money is the intention reason for the war and we need to cut it off and explains her plans for the war. This outrages the Magistrate that a woman has a plan for the war or even that she has an opinion. Lysistrata then dresses the Magistrate as a woman as punishment. She expresses her concern for the aging women at home while the men are at war, women have a short time before her time is up but men have the rest of their life.
Another point I would like to make is how clever the author was in his time. He used women as the focus point of the play to make the audience members think about the woman’s social situation in society. He was able to get away with it because he is a man and the fact that the play was written during the war.




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