How could the comedy Lysistrata be viewed as a response to the tragedy The Trojan Women?

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Despite their differences in genre and setting, there are some clear parallels between The Trojan Women and Lysistrata . Both are concerned with the effects of war, and both feature women in leading roles. The Trojan women of Euripides's play include Cassandra, recently raped by Ajax and now destined to...

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Despite their differences in genre and setting, there are some clear parallels between The Trojan Women and Lysistrata. Both are concerned with the effects of war, and both feature women in leading roles. The Trojan women of Euripides's play include Cassandra, recently raped by Ajax and now destined to be the concubine of the victorious Agamemnon, Hecuba, who is to be the prize of Odysseus, and Andromache, whose son Astyanax has been condemned to death.

Whereas these women are helpless victims, Lysistrata (the name means "breaker of armies") shows women seizing the initiative and using their power to end the Peloponnesian War. Lysistrata is often represented now as a drama which is both feminist and pacifist. This is an anachronistic reading, however. The women use the traditional arts and wiles of femininity to defeat the men, confirming rather than subverting traditional gender roles. There is also nothing in the text which suggests a pacifist philosophy, merely a desire to end the specific war in which Athens was engaged at the time, which had been dragging on for twenty years.

Lysistrata is far more likely to have been a response to Euripides's play, staged four years earlier in 415 BC, than a general statement of any philosophy. Aristophanes responds to the terrible fates of the Trojan women by having his women seize the initiative and end the war. Husbands are temporarily deprived of their wives so that the wives, unlike Andromache and Hecuba, need not be permanently deprived of their husbands. Aristophanes changes the tragic depiction of war in general into the comic conclusion of a specific and unpopular war. The fact that the play could end with a hymn in praise of Sparta clearly demonstrates that the Spartans were, by this stage, less of an enemy for the Athenians than the war itself.

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