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Letter On Lysistrata Essay, Research Paper

Letter on Lysistrata: A Plea For Equality

Dear friend,

The first thing that I noticed, which you might notice also, when I started reading Lysistrata was the very informal style of writing. The second thing I noticed was the strong presence of female authority rivaling against the age old male chavinism of most of the early cultures including the Greeks. Even though the Greeks did acknowledge the women in society more than, for example, the Romans, the Greek society was still on the large part male dominated.

Lysistrata presents women acting bravely and aggressively against men who seem bent both ondestroying their family life by staying away from home for long stretches while on military campaign and on ruining the city state by prolonging a pointless war. In other words, the play’s powerful women take on masculine roles to preserve the traditional way of life of the community. Lysistrata herself emphasizes this point in the very speech in which she insists that women have the intelligence and judgment to make political decisions. She came by her knowledge, she says, in the traditional way:

“I am a woman, but I am not brainless: I have my share of native wit, and more, Both from my father and from other elders Instruction I’ve received.” (p227)

Lysistrata was taught in the traditional fashion, by learning from older men. Her old-fashioned training and good sense allowed her to see what needed to be done to protect the community. Like the heroines of tragedy such as in The Oresteia where Clytaemnestra kills Agammemnon not just for revenge, but to restore things back to normal, Lysistrata is literally a reactionary; she wants to put things back the way they were. To do that, however, she has to act like a revolutionary. Ending the war would be so easy that women could do it. This is what Aristophanes is telling Athenian men, and that Athenians should concern themselves with preserving the old ways, should they be lost.

Even though Lysistrata was published, if you can say that, at the beginning of the year 411 B.C. when a big war was still going on, Aristophanes had written The Acharnians which was about bringing peace. In Lysistrata, he is saying a little more about peace, but even more about gender equality and how this must be achieved in order to obtain peace and order.

I hope you will enjoy this story as much as I did,

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