Women and Christianity: Lysistrata by Aristophanes Essay

Women and Christianity: Lysistrata by Aristophanes Essay

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Traditionally in ancient studies of various civilizations, women assume a submissive role as caretaker of the house and family. Generally, this trend continues throughout early organized society until around the time of sixty four A.D. with the rapid spread and judgment of the new religious dynamic of Christianity. The novel faith becomes notorious for the strong ties and companionship between members of the community as well as the appealing views of a compassionate deity and rewarding afterlife. These characteristics attracted women and impoverished peoples of Rome in particular. As the belief system caught on in the Empire many pagans and Emperors such as Nero rejected the faith and began to persecute these people for their beliefs. The cruel sufferings and deaths that Christians endured granted power to not only men of the religion, but also women for their dedication and bravery in declaring their religious beliefs. When analyzing the character of Lysistrata in Aristophanes’ play and Perpetua in the account of her martyrdom, significant differences can be seen in the two women’s leadership roles. While Lysistrata’s derived her authority from lust and manipulation, Perpetua’s authority stemmed from the Christian belief system. Furthermore, with the popularity of Christianity in ancient Rome, society viewed women as equal to men, spiritual leaders, modest and virtuous, and intelligent enough to make their own choices in life.
Aristophanes, the author of this play, creates this satiric comedy to make the point that women, though foolish, can prove to be manipulative as mothers and wives. Lysistrata, believing that women have a voice in politics, enters the play as the leader of Greek women, urging them to maintain peace in mai...

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...sts severely with the view of Christian women in the Roman Empire. The Greek play carries a very satirical connotation as a comedy that plays off of the weakness and pettiness of women of the era. The account of Perpetua’s death maintains a very somber and respectful tone that remains constant throughout all eight pages of the text. Perpetua’s masculine characteristics stand out as she models her dedication to religion, stubbornness, and physical endurance. The differences between the two texts highlight how Christianity influences the views of society to the benefit of women in such a short period of time.

Works Cited
Aristophanes. "Protesting War, Performing Satire." The Making of the West: Peoples and Cultures. By Katharine J. Lualdi. 4th ed. Vol. 1. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, n.d. 75-82. Print.
"The Passion of Saints Perpetua and Felicitas." N.d. PDF file.

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