Aristophanes and Women

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Aristophanes’ play Lysistrata provides the audience with a comedic relief to one of the more pervading themes of war and peace, while also highlighting the empowerment of women. The setting of this play takes place during a time when war was customary and fighting between countrymen was familiar. Aristophanes wrote the play during the Peloponnesian War when Athens and Sparta were engaging in continuous battles that weakened supplies and destroyed cities. Athens unfortunately was suffering a great deal more during this time, however their refusal of peace sparked much debate and allowed Aristophanes to critique the ideals of politics in an environment that was less threatening, such as the theatre. Although the central theme regarding the foolishness of war and necessity for peace is evident, it is less certain if Aristophanes’ intentions were to inspire the rise of women in the society of that time. It is a well known detail that women of ancient Greece were not considered equal members of society compared to their male counterparts, however Aristophanes gives wisdom and freedom to the female characters far beyond their presumed capabilities. The Lysistrata provides a unique perspective on the senselessness of war and the peaceful nature of women through the aesthetic nature of unity. One of the central themes presented throughout the play is the absolute necessity of peace. War has a destructive effect by nature, and when it is being demonstrated between countrymen there is often a consequential lasting impression. The Peloponnesian War in particular was regarded by many as both damaging and senseless for Athens and Sparta. Both countries exercised a lack of judgment and consequently exhausted many resources and lives. In an effort to illustrate the negative aspects surrounding war, Aristophanes uses the unique perspective of the wives to convey its indirect effects. Often times when we think of war we reflect on the costs, the resources, and the lives that...
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