Is Lysistrata a play that discusses the war in Greece or gender relations as they existed in Athens and other Greek states?

Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that Lysistrata has more to say about gender relations than about the war in Greece.  The statements that come out of the play are more about the relationships between men and women than about the war in Greece. Lysistrata and the Greek women forge an alliance with the women of Sparta.  In doing so, Lysistrata and the others are not "Greek" as much as much as  a "woman." The women in the drama do not see their identities bound by the city- state and its wars.  Rather, they seem themselves as women, first.  Women who have been widowed and abandoned by war and women who see themselves as being able to fundamentally guide matters better than the men who are in the position of power.  The "disobedience" that Lysistrata and the other women display is not one in which they see themselves as citizens of a city- state.  Theirs is one that transcends the political.  Rather, they see themselves as women and the drama seems to make a statement on how gender can be a defining trait, even in the Classical time period.  

The statement on gender relations is more dominant in the drama because men on both sides are seen as participating in the savagery of war.  Women on both sides are tired of what war does.  War is seen as an extension of patriarchy on both sides and something that is repudiated in the women's attitudes.  It is here in which a clear statement on gender relations is offered more than one on the war that existed between Athens and other Greek city- states.  The weaknesses of men, on both sides, is where women are able to forge solidarity and display power.  In this, a gender statement becomes the major thematic element of the drama over anything else.