Role of Woman in Classical and Modern Society A Study of Euripede’s Lysistrata
Lysistrata, the comedy by Aristophanes, was written to be performed in the 5th century BCE and is still one of the most significant resources we have regarding the roles and actions of women in Classical Greece. Since premiering, it has spawned many modern versions and portrayals, and is often quite well-recognized due to its controversial and hilarious content regarding sexuality and its power over the citizens of Greece during the Peloponnesian War. Because it combines both farce with truthfulness regarding the context of the work during the Classical period, Lysistrata is a valuable resource when it comes to understanding how women and their sexuality functioned in society, as well as how these functions developed throughout history. With this, the goal of this research is to examine Aristophanes’ play itself, analyze the role of women in the work, and observe how this role carries out into modern adaptations of the work.
To begin, it is important to analyze the primary sources that were used in researching Lysistrata and its history. As modern classicists, we are aware that primary sources from Classical Greece are few and far to come by in their original format – many have elements that may have been lost in translation, and some sources may have been left behind entirely. With this, the only primary source that was available in researching Lysistrata was, of course, Aristophanes’ work itself. However, the original version of the comedy was written in Ancient Greek, and thus the primary source used is one of the numerous translated editions that exist, featuring commentary and other textual notes, by Jack Johnson. Having said this, I recognized during my research that there is a definite possibility that certain elements within Aristophanes’ original work may have been lost when the play was translated to English, and thus there may be elements of his original intention that are lost to us.