Study Guide

Chorus of Old Women in Lysistrata

By Aristophanes

Chorus of Old Women

The Chorus of Old Women represents the women Lysistrata sent to take over the Acropolis. Whether because Ancient Athenian society did not see older women as sexual beings, or because their husbands had already died through war or disease, these women are not part of the sex strike.

Instead, their job is to seize control of the treasury, to prevent the public finances of Athens from being spent on war. In order to do this, however, they have to stand their ground against the Chorus of Old Men, who come to burn them out of their hideout. Fat chance, Grandpas.

Of the two choruses, the Chorus of Old Women is definitely feistier. While the old men experience old age as a decline from youthful strength, the old women see old age as bringing a new freedom to act as they choose, speak their minds, and douse the old men with water if they've got a mind to it. They probably also wear purple.

Women's Leader: "Rouse yourselves, women, away from those pitchers, it's our turn to pitch in with a little help for our friends!"
Women's Chorus: "Oh yes! I'll dance with unflagging energy;
no toilsome effort will weary my knees.
I'm ready to face anything
with women as courageous as these:
they've got character, charm, and guts,
they've got intelligence and heart
that's both patriotic and smart!"
Women's Leader: "Now, most valiant of prickly mommies and spikey grannies, attack furiously and don't go mushy: you're still running with the wind!"
(539-550)

That said, these old gals aren't all about confrontation; they can also cozy up to the old men when the time seems right—as at the end of the play, when the Women's Leader makes friends with the Men's Leader, before the two choruses merge into one. That's kind of sweet, actually. It's like an Ancient Greek version of It's Complicated.