Lysistrata gives us a front-row seat to the lives of women in Ancient Greece. Okay, maybe ladies didn't habitually go around hiding helmets under their tunics in order to fake pregnancy… but we still get our learning on.
Many scholars think that this was the first Ancient Greek comedy to feature a woman—the (tee hee) titular Lysistrata—as a main character. Because of this, we get peeks into women's daily lives: they managed household finances (whoa, pretty interesting) and spent a whole lot of time spinning and weaving (less interesting, TBH).
Also, Aristophanes portrays women as every bit as sex-crazed as men. They love to get in on, but they're willing to keep it in their pants, er, togas, long enough to put an end to a seemingly endless war.
Questions About Women and Femininity
- What are the main stereotypes about women shown in the play?
- Does the play portray any of the stereotypes about women as being untrue? If so, which ones?
- In line 145, Lysistrata praises Lampito (who has just said she will join the sex-strike) by calling her "the only real woman here." Is Lysistrata just being polite, or is there a real message here for the play's audience? If there's a real message, what else goes into making someone a "real woman," according to this play?
- Based on the other characters in the play, would you say that Lysistrata is a typical woman, or is she unusual?
Chew on This
The play portrays the stereotype that women are irrational as completely false.
The character of Lysistrata is an exception to the rule: this play suggests that women don't achieve rational thought and wisdom until they pass menopause.