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...
(The entire section is 640 words.)