Review: Lysistrata by Aristophanes + Live Play
Length: 54 pages
Genre: Drama, Classic
Publisher / Year: Dover Thrift Edition / written around 411 BC
Why I Read It: I recently read Kody Keplinger’s Shut Out (releases Sept 5) which is a loose retelling of this story. After reading it I ordered this to see what it was like.
Date Read: 13/07/11
This is a short and humorous play about war and women. The Pelopponesian war has been going on for a few years and the women are sick of it. Lysistrata calls the a secret meeting of woman from all sides in the conflict and convinces them to make a pact – no sex until peace is declared. To convince them of the worth of this pact she must appeal to their hearts over their bodies and the play is full of jokes about the legendary love of drinking and partying and sex that these women had. In the end though they come to her side, however grudgingly, and make their pact.
As part of this, the women are also taking over the Acropolis and seizing control of the treasury. The play then descends into a play of words and power between the old men who are left guarding the city and the women who have taken control. As the women both learn to work together and value their strengths they must also convince the men of this.
The play can be seen in both a feminist and a pacifist light. In many ways the play is more about ending this war now between the two sides and still refers to others as barbarians, but it does show the women wanting to end at least this one war and bring their men home. It also goes a bit to the extreme in gender essentialism with the idea that men are all for war and women all against war.
Although a slim volume, and very old, this play is definitely still interesting reading. If you get a chance I would recommend you pick it up. Aristophanes’ use of humor throughout the play is what really makes this a fun read, he definitely keeps the reader entertained.
Last night Carina and Rhiannon accompanied me to a live outdoor production of Lysistrata by Canopy Theatre Company. The play runs until August 6th (though tonight’s performance has been cancelled because of the extreme heat warning) and I would highly recommend you check it out. The play is based on Germaine Greer’s 1972 translation which highlights the feminist angles in the play. The cast was incredible and the entire show was hilarious. If you are around Toronto do check it out – tickets are only $10 or pay what you can on Wednesdays.