Aristophanes' Use of Currency Within Lysistrata

Essay by Ross20High School, 11th gradeA, June 2014

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Aristophanes, a famous Greek comedy writer, is known for his satirical plays that discuss prominent men, political trends, and social shortcomings. This satirical style can be seen in his play Lysistrata. In Lysistrata, the plot focuses around a strong woman's extraordinary mission to end the Peloponnesian war. Lysistrata convinces the women of Greece to withhold sexual privileges from their husbands as a means of forcing the men to negotiate peace. This strategy inflames the battle between the sexes. Lysistrata deals with the issues surrounding the Peloponnesian war from the point of view of the women. As with the idea that women could choose to refrain from intercourse, the idea that women could also organize a successful campaign for peace would have been ridiculous to the audience for which Aristophanes was writing. In Ancient Greece, society was heavily patriarchal. Women were expected to stay at home and had very little influence or power in the society.

Throughout the play, Aristophanes uses the different ways that the masculine and feminine characters wield currency, or any means of exchange, to demonstrate gender equality in such a patriarchal society. Aristophanes may not take a completely feministic point of view in his play, however through his portrayal of the female characters and how they deal with the war, he is able to show how women also effectively wield their power.

In the first part of the play, Lysistrata is introduced as the leader of the women as she tries to convince the other women to use the one thing they have control of against the men. Lysistrata is first shown anxiously waiting for the other women, who are late, to arrive for her important meeting. Lysistrata finally sees Calonicé and tells her, "when women are summoned to meet for a matter of...