Praxagora (prak-SA-goh-ruh), a housewife of Athens who has become disgusted with the dishonesty of public officers, the fickleness and greed of the people, and the mismanagement of domestic and foreign affairs. She encourages a number of her female friends to disguise themselves as men, pack the assembly, and vote for her proposal that the government of the state be turned over to the women. Although not above occasional vulgarity, she is quick-witted and courageous. An accomplished orator, she carries her plan to success and finds herself designated dictator. She quickly institutes a program of reform, evidently based on the playwright’s knowledge of an early version of Plato’s Republic. In Praxagora’s utopian society, crime will become impossible because property will be held in common; meals will be taken in communal dining halls, marital restrictions will be abolished (with the proviso that the old and ugly have first claims on desirable sexual partners), and courtesans will be done away with so that honest women may have their choice of young men. Praxagora fears that her reforms are too extreme for adoption, but she is assured that “love of novelty and disdain for the past” among the Athenians will secure the cooperation of the people.
Blepyrus (bleh-PI-ruhs), Praxagora’s husband, some years...
(The entire section is 515 words.)