One of the shorter plays, Lysistrata appears to have been produced at the Lenaia, with no surviving indication of its achievement. The most outrageously notorious scenes in all drama could only have been staged in the Greek theater, with its base in the phallic-oriented festivals of the city-state cult.
The play also is famous for the role given to women, particularly noteworthy since there is no evidence for women attending Athenian theater, and since it entailed the somewhat comic difficulty of having men, already in their phallic-oriented costumes, play the roles of the women. Yet that same year, 411 b.c.e., Aristophanes appears to have submitted for the City Dionysia the Thesmophoriazousai (Thesmophoriazusae, 1837), another play with women as principal characters, and he returned to this theme several other times in subsequent plays.
The prologue (lines 1-253) introduces Lysistrata, an Athenian woman who seeks to achieve peace from prolonged warfare among the city-states, which the men have been unable or unwilling to accomplish. Her idea is to withhold all sexual relations from husbands or lovers until they agree to peace terms. In the opening scene, she must first persuade diverse women, some of whose discourse provides marvelous examples of what else women of the time had within their duties, as well as upon their minds. The scene closes with the women convinced. In agreement, they seize the Akropolis, site of Athena’s temple.
Aristophanes employs two half-choruses for this comedy, one of old men, the other of old women, to play off one another and as...
(The entire section is 675 words.)