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

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

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:

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

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

I'll get a stately gown.

Or unscabbard a sword--

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:

Get up a moment.

I'm up high enough.

Would you like me to perfume you?

By Apollo, no!

By Aphrodite, I'll do it anyway.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial