Lysistrata is a play written in 411 BC by Aristophanes. At that time in Greek history, the city-states were constantly warring with one another. Consequently, the women were left at home. One woman, Lysistrata, was so fed up with the fighting that she called all of the women of Greece to a meeting. When they finally showed up, Lysistrata presented her plan for peace: no sex until the wars ceased. She eventually convinced all of the other women that this was the only way to bring peace to the land.
The men were miserable and ultimately they negotiated a treaty to stop the hostilities. This play has its merits and its downfalls. As a whole, however, it is well written, humorous, and most importantly, it has a purpose. On first glance, the play seems to be no more than a simple, comical story. Aristophanes wrote the play not only to entertain, but also to make a stand against warfare. He believed that war was an abnormal state of affairs. At the opening of the play, Lysistrata has called a meeting of all the women and is impatiently waiting for them.
She says that she has spent long, sleepless nights agonizing over the solution to the wars. She tells Kalonike, Only we women can save Greece! As the rest of the women arrive, she informs them of her plan. The women are resistant to the idea of no sex at first. They then realize that what Lysistrata says is true. The women take an oath and swear to one another that they will have nothing to do with their husbands until the wars cease. Aristophanes’ use of women as the peacemakers shows the natural role of women as nurturers.
He is displaying how life should be, without war. In times of peace, men are working at home alongside their wives. When war comes about, women are left to do all the work, domestic and otherwise. This upsets the balance of daily life. Aristophanes is urging his fellow Greeks to restore peace and therefore life as they once knew it. As the play progresses, the men are in extreme pain and agony from the withholding of sexual activities. They come to the conclusion, grudgingly, that the women are indeed correct.
To renew Greece, the fighting must end. And they are the ones with whom it has to begin. The men arrange a treaty and then celebrate with the others, Athenian and Spartan alike. But, as I can imagine, all, women and men, are anxious to get home. With this play, Aristophanes’ goal was to tell an amusing story and also to spur his countrymen to resolve their differences for the sake of Greece and Greek life. We now know that they did not heed Aristophanes warnings.
The Golden Age of Greece did come to an end, mostly because of the extreme pride and arrogance of the individual city-states. Aristophanes did his best to convince them, but such is the sage advice: it often goes unheeded, much to the dismay of all concerned. English Essays