Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 640
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:...
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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 hand, Cleonice adds much zest with ribald commentary and turns out to be one of Lysistrata’s main supporters.
Myrrhine (mih-REE-nee), one of Lysistrata’s captains, representing Anagyra. Just as the idealism of Lysistrata is wearing thin and the torment of self-denial is weakening the ranks of the women, Myrrhine’s husband appears. Acting under orders from Lysistrata, she subjects him to unendurable, teasing torture. This episode is not only one of the play’s funniest but also the point at which Lysistrata’s strategy turns toward success.
Lampito (LAM-pih-toh), a woman of Sparta who agrees to participate in Lysistrata’s plan. Her loyalty and resourcefulness bring success in that land. Lampito, typical of the Athenian’s concept of Spartan women, is athletic, bold, and well-proportioned. A key figure throughout the play, she steps forward at the very inception of Lysistrata’s plan to be the major seconding voice. Her example ensures the revolt of the women.
Cinesias (sih-NEE-see-uhs), the husband of Myrrhine. Exhibiting all symptoms of lust, he begs his wife to return to him.
A child, the infant son of Myrrhine and Cinesias, brought by his father in an attempt to bribe his mother into deserting the women’s cause.
A magistrate, a pompous representative of law and order who seeks to treat the revolutionaries as silly housewives to be spanked and sent to their kitchens. Much to his chagrin, he discovers them in no mood to be so treated. After seeing his force of Scythian policemen rebuffed, and after being defeated completely by Lysistrata’s determined female logic, he becomes the echo and image of the playwright’s laughter at the ineffectuality of the law when pitted against organized femininity.
A Chorus of old men
A Chorus of old men, who head the first unsuccessful attempt to dislodge the women from the Acropolis. They toil uphill with smoke faggots and engage in much humorous comment on the character of women in general. Their efforts are confined mostly to threats and ineffectual maneuvering as the women prove too much for them.
A Chorus of women
A Chorus of women, antagonists of the old men. The women establish a swift rapport with them, not only making their smoke faggots useless by soaking them but also besting them in a verbal exchange of ridicule and insult.
A Spartan herald
A Spartan herald, also suffering the pangs of thwarted love.
Spartan envoys, with whom the Athenian women conclude a treaty of peace.
Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 589
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.
Lampito is a Spartan woman who agrees with Lysistrata and who helps to bring about peace between the two enemies. She is athletic and bold, and demonstrates that she is also loyal and resourceful. Lampito provides the Spartan equivalent to the Athenian Lysistrata.
Lysistrata is an idealistic young woman who wants to bring a stop to the war. She decides that the most effective way to get the men to stop fighting is to deny them sex. She brings all the other women together and with some help from Lampito, convinces all the women to join in her in this plan. Lysistrata is smart and funny, a heroine with good analytical abilities, who is easy to admire. She helps the old women defend the Acropolis, thus controlling the treasury and preventing any more money being spent on war. When it appears that many of the women cannot hold out any longer, Lysistrata finds a prophecy that convinces the women to stick with the plan. She displays intelligence and the ability to be creative and convincing. When it appears that the peace talks between Athens and Sparta will end without an agreement, Lysistrata devises additional means to convince the men to find a peaceful solution.
The magistrate attempts to convince the women to return home, threatening them with silly and demeaning punishments. His attempts to disband the women fail, and his effectual control over the women illustrates how Aristophanes views the ineffectual government. This character is the target of Aristophanes’ ridicule of the governing system and represents the foolishness of the leaders.
Myrrhine is one of Lysistrata’s strongest supporters and a willing captain in her service. When her husband tries to convince her to leave, Myrrhine denies him sexual favors and teases her husband with what he is missing. Her support of Lysistrata’s scheme shifts the balance of power and marks the beginning of the men’s defeat.
Spartan Envoys It is the Spartan envoys who finally agree to a peace.
The Spartan herald is one of the men suffering without a woman.