Study Guide

Lysistrata Men and Masculinity

By Aristophanes

Men and Masculinity

One of the most striking features about Lysistrata is the fact that the male characters are—almost without exception—portrayed as bumbling, incompetent fools, in contrast to the play's powerful women.

The sex-strike has the effect of turning man's most prized possession, the symbol of his, er, manhood, into a weapon against him. When all of Greece is walking around with painful erections without any hope of relief, you can bet that it isn't a source of pride. In this way, the women knock the men down a few pegs, and clear some space for their own voices to be heard.

Questions About Men and Masculinity

  1. Why are the men in the play so afraid of taking advice from women?
  2. What are the main stereotypes about men shown in the play?
  3. Does the play portray any of the stereotypes about men as being untrue? If so, which ones?
  4. If you were a male member of Aristophanes' audience in 411 BCE, would you feel that his play had represented you fairly?

Chew on This

The play portrays the stereotype that men are more intelligent than women as untrue.

The men in the play are afraid of taking advice from women because it would show that they aren't actually superior.