Humanities/Greco-Roman Culture Lysistrata Aristophanes was a "craft" comedy poet in the fourth century B.C. during the time of the Peloponnesian War. Aristophanes' usual style was to be too satirical, and suggesting the outlandish. He shows little mercy when mocking Socrates and his "new-fangled ideas" which were most likely designed to destroy the cohesiveness of society and lead to anarchy, in his play The Clouds. The most absurd and humorous of Aristophanes' comedies are those in which the main characters, the heroes of the story, are women. Smart women. One of the most famous of Aristophanes' comedies depicting powerfully effectual women is the Lysistrata, named after the female lead character of the play. It portrays Athenian Lysistrata and the women of Athens teaming up with the women of Sparta to force their husbands to end the Peloponnesian War. To make the men agree to a peace treaty, the women seized the Acropolis, where Athens' financial reserves are kept, and prevented the men from squandering them further on the war. They then beat back an attack on their position by the old men who have remained in Athens while the younger men are out on campaign. When their husbands return from battle, the women refuse to have sex with them. This sex strike, which is portrayed in a series of (badly) exaggerated and blatant sexual innuendoes, finally convinces the men of Athens and Sparta to agree to a peace treaty. The Lysistrata shows women acting bravely and even aggressively against men who seem resolved on ruining the city-state by prolonging a pointless war and excessively expending reserves stored in the Acropolis. This in turn added to the destruction of their family life by staying away from home for long stretches while on military campaign. The men would come home when they could, sexually relieve themselves, and then leave again to continue a senseless war. The women challenge the masculine role model to preserve the traditional way of life of the community. When the women become challenged themselves, they take on the masculine characteristics and attitudes and defeat the men physically, mentally but most of all strategically. Proving that neither side benefits from it, just that one side loses more than the other side. It's easy to see why fourth century B.C. Athenian women would get tired of their men leaving. Most Athenian women married in their teens and never had to be on their own, and probably wouldn't know what to do if they did land on their own. The men leave for war and some don't return because of death or whatever reasons, so now a widow finds herself on her own, probably with children, and no one to take care of her or her children. She might be able to enter her male children as a journeyman/ward to a wealthy family (who either have no male children, or most likely lost their son(s) in one of the wars) that will raise him. The widow has few prospects. If she's young and attractive enough with the right domestic skills she might be able to remarry. But her lot isn't too promising. After all, why would you want a widow, when you could get a "fresh" wife to "break-in" the way you want and start a family from your own seed? According to Lysistrata it is easier to untangling multinational politics, stop wars and fighting than the women's work of sorting out wool. If you just stop war, it's settled, but with wool all tangles must be physically labored out by hand. Women's work is never done. Lysistrata 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, and, yes, I have brains. And I'm not badly off for judgment. Nor has my education been bad, coming as it has from my listening often to the conversations of my father and the elders among the men." Lysistrata was schooled 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, Lysistrata wants to put things back to the way they were. To do that, however, she has to become a revolutionary. Ending the war would be so easy