Study Guide

Lysistrata Warfare

By Aristophanes


The basic message of Lysistrata is that war is bad. Fair enough. But it goes into a bit more detail than that. One of the most important points the play makes is that women suffer in war just as much as men. The play also gets up on its soapbox and claims that war is unnecessary: proved by the fact that the men of both sides somehow find a way to resolve the seemingly irresolvable conflict just as soon as they realize they won't be getting any sex.

Even taking all these points into consideration, though, it's important to note that the play isn't so much anti-war as it is anti-war-between-Greeks. Toward the end of the play, Lysistrata makes the point that it would be much better if the Spartans and Athenians could team up against their common enemy: the Barbarians.

Questions About Warfare

  1. Does the play argue that war is always bad, or can it sometimes be justified?
  2. Does the play portray men and women as suffering equally in war, or does one suffer more than the other?
  3. According to the play, what are the main reasons that make people fight wars?
  4. What is stopping the Athenians and the Spartans from making peace with each other?

Chew on This

Lysistrata hints that war is especially bad when it is between cities that could otherwise get along, but she seems to think that war against Barbarians is a-okay.

The play portrays the main causes of war as greed and pride, especially the greed and pride of powerful citizens.