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Lecture 9

CLA219H1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 9: Mattress, Sex Strike, Lysistrata

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Regina Höschele

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Lecture 9 Cla219H1
Aristophanes Lystratra
- He is a prominent comical writer in antiquity
- There were three other famous comical authors, Sophocles, Euripedes, and Alkibiades
- Aristophanes lived from the 2nd half of the 5th century to the beginning of the 4th century
- Most of his plays were written during the Pelopolysian war in 432-404 BC between Sparta and
Athens, both of which were Greek. This war lasted several decades
- Most of this comedies deal with hose to get peace from the wars, in a funny way
- He directly attacks politician.
- Atomiun attacks are directly to specific people.
- This style was the old comedy of Athens.
- Old comedy centers around a comic idea and halfway in to the play, we see the outcome of the
comic idea.
- New comedy was written in the next century, similar to the comedy seen in soap operas.
- imagination of a temporary gynaecocracy (rule of women)
- Athens was famous for its democracy of all men, excluding slaves and women of course
- This decision making system changed a bit during the pelopolysian war.
- When Athens go the idea to go on an Celialian expedition and invade Cecily and expand its
power in 415-413 BC, their plan backfired and they were not successful. They were terribly
defeated. They lost many men.
- This was a major crucial turning point for Athens, it lead to a new temporary decision making
system, in hope of making things better for the city
- This system consisted of 10 proboulos=elder, noble men that made political disicssions for the
city and announced them before the court. This was established in 413 BC.
- One of them was Sophocles
- Then in 410BC, there was a new system
- oligarchic = ruled by a few. In this system, there were 400 rulers (which is relatively a few). This
was established in 411BC.
- However in 410 BC this was finished and Athens returned to Democracy
- In this play, the Athenian women are sick of men going to war and having many of the men die
off in war. So they they refuse to have sexual intercourse with their husbands, strategically, so
the lack of sex will drive them men away from the war and the war will cease. To make this plan
more successful, they share this plan with the Spartan women, to help the Spartan men walk
away from the war as well.

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- This was the like a sex strike
- However many of the women themselves wanted sex and did not see this as a very convienent
- The goal was to get all the women to work together to successfully carry out their plan.
- This sex strike was Lystertara’s idea.
- She tells them to refuse to have sex with husband until Sparta and Athens have peace. She also
tells the Chorus of the Old Women to control the Acropolis
- This play was performed in 410BC and the actors were mainly men. Some of the actresses may
have been real women. This was the same year that the Thesmophocizane was written by
Lenaea festival in January and Dionysia (a bigger festival) in spring, where two festivals where the
play would be performed.
Occupation of Acropolis in the Play
- Young women refused to have sex
- Old women took over the treasury of the Acropolis, and the old men tried to regain control of
the money and wealth of the city
- Thus control of the oikos and the polis were both changing
- This gave a mixture of 2 conflicts
- External politics (macro) and internal politics (micro)
In the Play
- There are 2 elements for each play
- One is the actors who speak in the Iambe meters
- And the other is the chorus who sing in lyric meters
- There is a split of the choirs, one with old men and the other with old women
- In tragedy there is a mixture of spoken and lyrical meters, the same occurs in comedies.
- Eg. In artisophane play, The Frogs, Dionysis does the the underworld, and crosses a river In the
underworld. The frogs from the river jump out and sing the chorus.
- The name Lysterara is meaningful
- Stratos=army
- Lysi=to dissolve
- Thus the name means, the women who dissolved the army.
- However this name might have a second meaning as well to give as illusion to the meaning of
the title, because a woman named Lysimachi (the one who dissolves battle) once lived and she
was the presitess of Athena Polis ( the city Goddess)
- Aristophanes also choses this name that is well known and has the meaning to the audience
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