(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Lysistrata summons to Athens women from Sparta and the other city-states involved in the Second Peloponnesian War. She proposes to them that they use their feminine wiles to force an end to the prolonged conflict. Specifically, she suggests that they all swear an oath not to have sexual relations with their men until the armistice is achieved.

The women are horrified at the suggestion, except for Lampito, a Spartan woman, who agrees with Lysistrata that this solution is a workable one. Lampito helps Lysistrata persuade the women to take a sacred oath not to have physical relations with their husbands or lovers until the war is over.

Many of the women return to their native lands, but Lysistrata and a group of her female followers seize the Acropolis and lock themselves inside. The old men of Athens, the magistrates, build fires around the base, trying to smoke the women out, but the women retaliate by dumping water on the old men and holding their ground.

Eventually the sexually deprived men from the opposing sides gather but are reluctant to sign the treaty. Soon, however, they are enticed into doing so by the resolute women.

LYSISTRATA is high comedy, as popular and timely today as it was when it was written. The humor is broad and bawdy. Like much good comedy, the play holds up to ridicule contemporary conditions and situations.


Bowie, A. M. Aristophanes: Myth, Ritual,...

(The entire section is 470 words.)