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: 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.
(The entire section contains 1229 words.)
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