Homework Help

Does Lysistrata by Aristophanes depend more on verbal or visual humor?

user profile pic

lonestargirl56 | Student, Professional | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted September 12, 2013 at 10:01 PM via web

dislike 2 like

Does Lysistrata by Aristophanes depend more on verbal or visual humor?

1 Answer | Add Yours

user profile pic

Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted September 14, 2013 at 1:08 AM (Answer #1)

dislike 2 like

While physical, visual humor is important to Lysistrata, it serves to illustrate the clever verbal humor. Think of it this way: if you were to watch a performance of Lysistrata in a completely darkened theater or over a radio as you may have done in days of old, the humor would still come through. It is true that the humor might be heightened by the visual aspect, but the humor is not eliminated when the visual element is missing.

Aristophanes is a master at the word play that is requisite for this kind of comical verbal satire. The women are excellent on their own in verbal repartee as is illustrated in the opening volley between Lysistrata and Calonice during which womens' clothing and cosmetics are likended to and coveted as elements of warfare in the proposed assault to end the war the womens' husbands are forever occupied with fighting, much to the womens' unhappiness:

CALONICE
...We women who dwell ...
With gowns of lucid gold and gawdy toilets
Of stately silk and dainty little slippers....

LYSISTRATA
These are the very armaments of the rescue.
[...]
No man will lift a lance against another--
[...]
Or take a shield--

CALONICE
I'll get a stately gown.

LYSISTRATA
Or unscabbard a sword--

CALONICE
Let me buy a pair of slipper.
[...]
[The women] should have turned birds, they should have grown
wings and flown [to meet].

The verbal repartee takes on a different tone and meaning though it remains of high quality when it occurs between the women and their husbands as is illustrated by Myrrhine and Ciesias when Myrrhine elicits confirmation of Ciesias' promise of a peace treaty between the warring factions:

MYRRHINE
Get up a moment.

CINESIAS
I'm up high enough.

MYRRHINE
Would you like me to perfume you?

CINESIAS
By Apollo, no!

MYRRHINE
By Aphrodite, I'll do it anyway.

Sources:

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes