Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Switching Roles

In Aristophanes' comedic play, Lysistrata is a strong independent woman who sends ancient Greece into total chaos over sex. She is smart, witty and is able to control even the supposed-to-be manliest of men in both Athens and Sparta. Aristophanes gives the audience a look at the way women lived in ancient Greece by having an original female protagonist, something that has been done many times since but had not been done many times before. Lysistrata is about powerful women in a time of great war who use sex and politics to bring about peace. Aristophanes gives use powerful women and weak, foolish, incompetent men. The irony of all ironies; supposed-to-be incompetent and silly women foster peace in a supposed-to-be tough and powerful man's war. Everyone in the play, men and women both, are obsessed with sex. Sex rules Lysistrata's world and Aristophanes gives her power as the only character who is an exception to the rule. The men in the play are reluctant to take an advice on the war from the women as that would mean that they are not superior in reason, intelligence, etc. So therefore the women take away the one thing that boosts their egos and masculinity. Lysistrata is the definition of a "strong independent women who doesn't need a man"; she creates the struggle for power, she is the puppet master, and she gets what she wants. The men and women in the play switch roles, which was seen as unbelievable in Aristophanes’ day. Aristophanes conveyed an anti-war theme through ludicrous and dirty humor. His messages are modern and radical and therefore the play is meant to be comedic and ridiculous as a cover up.

The  themes of the play have been seen as offensive since it was written in the 400s B.C. The play has been one of the most frequently banned over the past 2500 years for its anti-war sentiments and the remarkable power of women. It was banned in the U.S. in the 1870s and the ban wasn’t lifted until the 1930s. The issues that Aristophanes addresses in his play are still relevant to our modern world. Though women fight in wars, run companies, and help lead our country, there is a stereotype that is fought everyday about women being seductresses and distractions or lacking the same level of intelligence or reason as men. In addition, wars are always controversial topics. The US has fought in countless wars and the decision to fight is never unanimous. Lysistrata was ahead of its time. It joked about the power of women and the switching roles of men and women, but reading it today, it reads more realistically.

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