Study Guide

Chorus of Old Men in Lysistrata

By Aristophanes

Chorus of Old Men

The Chorus of Old Men makes its first appearance near the beginning of the play, when its members shuffle their way up to the Acropolis, carrying fire to smoke the women out of their hideout. They should have stayed at home, playing shuffleboard or watching the History Channel like normal grandpas. Athens is no country for old men.

These are old dudes and the climb is difficult for them. But that's just the beginning of their troubles. In no time, the Chorus of Old Men finds itself confronted by the Chorus of Old Women, who are much feistier and energetic and who promptly drench their male rivals in cold water.

For a while, the Men's Chorus stands their ground. They are, after all, veterans of war:

Now doesn't this behavior of theirs amount to extreme hubris?
And I do believe the situation will only get worse.
Every man with any balls must stand up to this threat!
[…]
Come on, Whitefeet!
We went against Leipsydrium
when we still were something;
now we've got to rejuvenate, and give wing
to our whole bodies, and slough off this old skin!
(659-670)

But ultimately, we are left with the pathetic spectacle of the old men crying and lamenting to the Magistrate about how being wet makes them feel like they just peed on themselves.

Unsurprisingly, these old guys are the representatives of the most old-fashioned, traditional view in Athens, and they see any attempt by the women to gain even the slightest bit of power as the first step on the road to tyranny. It's all a bit pathetic, really.

Fortunately, at the end of the play, the Women's Leader makes friends with the Men's Leader, prompting the two Choruses to join into one. Now that the women have gotten what they want, the old folks of both sexes can be united in cantankerousness and a shared love of Florida, soft foods, and Aqua Aerobics.