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Lysistrata

Aristophanes

Myrrhine's Seduction–Play's End

Wool Metaphor–Myrrhine's Seduction

Myrrhine's Seduction–Play's End, page 2

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Summary

The Koryphaios of Men comforts the distraught Kinesias, abandoned by Myrrhine. In agony, Kinesias departs. A Spartan Herald enters the stage and shrouds his own erect phallus with his cloak. The Herald asks for the Executive Board and tells the men he has brought some news. The Commissioner enters the stage and asks whether the Herald is carrying a concealed weapon (indicating the Herald's erection). The commissioner throws open the cape of the Herald and exposes the Herald in full. The Herald explains that things are very bad in Sparta and that the men are quite desperate for their women. The Commissioner tells the Herald to go to Sparta and request a Plenipotentiary Commission to conclude an armistice. The Herald departs.

The Koryphaios of Women tells the Koryphaios of Men that the two should no longer persist in their frivolous war of the sexes. Although the Koryphaios of Men cries out for misogyny, the Koryphaios of Women wins his favor by helping him put his tunic on once again. The Koryphaios of Women also helps the Koryphaios of Men take an insect out of his eye and the two make amends, sealed with a kiss from the Koryphaios of Women to the Koryphaios of Men. The Chorus of Old Men and the Chorus of Old Women also make amends and end their disputes. The two choruses unite and face the audience in song. The Spartan ambassadors, who enter from stage right, interrupt the singing. The ambassadors, like the Herald, also suffer from their erections. The Athenian delegation, also with erections, enters from the left led by Kinesias.

The gates of the Akropolis open and Lysistrata emerges with her handmaid Peace. Peace is a beautiful girl and is completely naked. Peace remains out of sight when Lysistrata first enters the scene. Lysistrata tells the men that they will come to an agreement soon enough and calls out Peace. The men stare at Peace who makes the men's stiffness all the more uncomfortable. Lysistrata directs the Athenians and the Spartans to places opposite each other. Lysistrata announces that she is a woman with wisdom and condemns the killing of Greek men and women. As Lysistrata's oration goes on, Kinesias comically remarks that he will be destroyed if "this is drawn out much longer" (alluding both to the "drawn out" nature of not only Lysistrata's speech, but also of his elongated phallus). Lysistrata continues and ignores Kinesias's complaint. Lysistrata reminds the men that the Spartans have asked for assistance from Athens and that Athens gave it. Lysistrata tells the men of Athens that they should remember when the Spartans saved Athens from the "pride of Thessaly." Lysistrata asks what keeps the men from peace and a Spartan replies that they would end the war if Sparta was given a strategic location. Pointing to Peace's buttocks, the Spartan tells Lysistrata that Sparta will take The Promontory of Pylos. Using the maid Peace as a map of Greece, Kinesias tells the Spartans that he wants certain portions of Greece and is given the land equivalent of Peace's legs or the "legs of Megara." (The legs of Megara are the walls that connected Megara with the seaport, Nisaia. The names of the towns desired by Kinesias are puns on the geography of the female body.)

With some urging from Lysistrata, both parties agree to a truce. The men take off their cloaks and again expose their throbbing phalluses. Lysistrata further instructs the men that they must convene with their councils and declare a union among allies; the delegations of men run off to follow her instructions in full.

The Chorus of Old Men and the Chorus of Old Women sing another verse and go to the door of the Akropolis. The Commissioner appears, slightly drunk and carries a torch. Time has apparently passed and the banquet between the Spartan and Athenian delegations has just finished. The Commissioner tells the chorus to get back from the doors. Kinesias, also drunk, comes out of the Akropolis and raves at the wonderful party between the Spartans and the Athenians. The Commissioner also adds his enthusiastic description of the party. The Spartans enter onto the stage through the door of the Akropolis, followed by all of the women. Lysistrata tells the men that they may take their women home and the men and women of the chorus join together in a joyous song. As the play concludes there is singing and dancing all around.

Analysis

Recognizing the performance practices of Ancient Greece is vital to an understanding of Aristophanes's real purpose in the writing of Lysistrata. The illusion and sexual tension of an original performance of Lysistrata would have been undoubtedly influenced by the fact that males played all of the female parts and that there was only an all-male audience to watch. With this in mind, it seems that one could view Lysistrata as a chauvinist piece, with men playing at their idealized woman. However there remain a few earnest arguments for empowering women in the play.

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