Study Guide

Myrrhine in Lysistrata

By Aristophanes

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Myrrhine first makes her appearance on the scene near the beginning of the play, when she comes to Lysistrata's meeting of the women of Greece. Myrrhine is a local gal—a young housewife from Athens.

At first, Myrrhine isn't that prominent a character. She seems pleasant enough, and is eager to do her part for the team, but Lysistrata's neighbor Calonice is more of a stand-out. This changes once Myrrhine's husband Cinesias shows up on the scene, carrying their baby in his arms. At Lysistrata's encouragement, Myrrhine descends from the Acropolis to meet her husband. Her instructions? To get him sexually excited to the point of bursting—but then not actually have sex with him. It' s an epic tease:

Myrrhine: "Lift up now, upsy daisy. There, is that everything?"
Cinesias: "Everything for sure. Now come here, my little treasure!"
Myrrhine: "I'm just getting my breastband off. But remember: don't break your promise about a peace settlement."
Cinesias: "So help me Zeus, I hope I die if I do!"
Myrrhine: "You don't have a blanket."
Cinesias: "It's not a blanket I want—I want a f***!"
Myrrhine: "Don't worry, that's just what you're going to get. I'll be back in a flash."
Cinesias: "That woman will drive me nuts with all her bedding!"
Myrrhine (returning with a blanket): "Get up."
Cinesias: "I've already got it up!"

It is in this tease-ariffic episode that Myrrhine truly comes into her own. She plays her part to perfection, alternately criticizing her husband and telling him she loves him, and generally playing hard to get. Cinesias is reduced to a helpless mess.

When she finally makes it seem that she is giving in to his seduction, she constantly finds new excuses not to have sex—there's no mattress, no pillow, and so on. By running off at the last minute, she puts Cinesias into such a state that he needs only the slightest provocation (seeing the Herald from Sparta in the same crazy-aroused state that he is) to get the Athenians to make peace.

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