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CLA219H1 Lecture Notes - Thesmophoriazusae, Lenaia, Acropolis Of Athens

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Regina Höschele

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Lecture 9 (11/20/12):
Aristophanes' Lysistrata
- 411 BC, performed in Athens by the comic playwright Aristophanes
- Aristophanes lived in the second half of the 4th century and the beginning of the 3rd
century BC
- Most of his plays were performed while the Peloponnesian war was being fought
- Often the plays were about silly ways to stop the war and contained direct attacks on
prominent people, this is the old comedy
- New comedy was more romantic comedy styled plays
- Lysistrata shows the women running the city
- Gynaecocracy: rule by women
- The Sicilian expedition was a total clusterfuck that destroyed the Athenian fleet
- 413 BC, saw the political restructuring with a council of 10 elders to make the decisions
for the people
- 411 BC, temporary establishment of a oligarchy in Athens
- The Four Hundred: The short lived oligarchy imposed on Athens by a coup during the
Peloponnesian war
- Oligarchy: The rule of the few, usually the rule of the upper class
- 410 BC, the return of the democracy
- These things are all found in Lysistrata since its part of the political context
- Comic idea: women want to stop the war by refusing to have sex with men until they
- But the women want sex too so they have trouble sticking to the plan
- Comedies are not strictly logical, the ban on sex should only work if the men were at
home buy they're doing it because the men are away
- Put on the same year that Aristophanes put on the Thesmophoriazusae
- Would be put on during the Lenaea or the City Dionysia
- Lenaea: Small dramatic festival of Athens held in the winter
- Dionysia: A large dramatic festival to Dionysus held in winter and early spring in which
dramatic contests were held for comedy and tragedy
- There is an occupation of the acropolis by the old women to take hold of the treasury
and the finance
- the old men try to take the acropolis back
- A paralysing of both the Oikos with the sex ban and the polis with the occupation of the
- Two levels of conflict, Sparta vs. Athens and men vs. women
- Shown by the split of the chorus into a male and female half
- Comedy has a structure similar to tragedy with an alternation between spoken parts
and the chorus
- Chorus not usually split but they are in this case
- Lysistrata is a meaningful name, means woman who dissolves the army, was an
allusion to the priestess of Athena Polias at the time whose name meant dissolver of
- Lysistrata's partner is named after the priestess of Athena Nike, confirming the
connection between the play and the priestesses of that year
- The idea of a gynaecocracy is not necessarily a good thing
- Amazons: Self sufficient female society who once almost took over the Athenian
- Lemnos is where the women offended Aphrodite so she makes them all smell bad so
the men go to others so they kill all the men and live alone
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