Characters Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Lysistrata (li-SIHS-trah-tah), an idealistic Athenian woman who is not content to stand submissively by and witness the obvious waste that war brings to the land. In her effort to bring a permanent peace to Greece, she demonstrates qualities that mark her as one of the archetypal revolutionaries: relentless fervor, cunning, and intractability. In addition to the traits of a revolutionary, Lysistrata possesses a healthy supply of inimitable wit and humor, qualities lacking in the ordinary stage conception of a revolutionary. She reasons and persuades the women of Greece to cast their lots with her so that by simply refusing the men sexual satisfaction she can bring them to her terms: abolition of war and the relinquishment of the treasury to women. Amid the rollicking ribaldry, Lysistrata’s plan to seize and occupy the Acropolis of Athens with her army of celibate women weathers a storm of protest, succeeds, and wrecks the framework of a society dominated by men.
Cleonice (klee-oh-NI-see), a lusty Athenian friend of Lysistrata. At first reluctant to go along with so devastating and sacrificing a plan, she eventually is browbeaten by Lysistrata into accepting the challenge to save Greece from the total ruin of war. She partakes of the solemn oath, binding herself to refrain from sharing the marriage bed with her husband. Constantly on...
(The entire section is 640 words.)
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Calonice (also called Cleonice) is a friend of Lysistrata, but she is at first reluctant to make the sacrifices that Lysistrata asks. Calonice is earthy and funny, especially in voicing her lust for her husband. She becomes one of Lysistrata’s strongest supporters, but not without having first been browbeaten by Lysistrata.
Cinesias brings his infant son to the siege in an attempt to convince Myrrhine to return home.
Chorus of Old Men
The chorus of old men leads an assault on the Acropolis. They try to burn the women out by setting fire to the base of the building. When action fails them, the old men engage in a war of words with the old women, who have seized the treasury. The old men are offended by the women’s desire to control the treasury, but they are ineffective against the strength of the women.
Chorus of Old Women
The old women prove a formidable force, easily defending the Acropolis against the old men’s attack. They pour water on the men, when they attempt to set a fire, and they prove themselves wittier and more effective in a war of words with the old men. The old women point out that men only pass useless laws that lead to disorder.
Cinesias is Myrrhine’s husband. He suffers from unfulfilled lust and begs his wife to forget her oath and return to his bed.
(The entire section is 589 words.)