Lysistrata - Introduction Lysistrata is often produced in...

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Introduction: Lysistrata is often produced in contemporary theatre. Modern audiences enjoy the sexuality and humor in Aristophanes’ work, and they enjoy what appears as modern feminism and the depiction of strong women. Comedies were very popular presentations during the Greek festivals, and there is no reason to think that Lysistrata was not immensely popular. At the time of the play’s initial production, Athens and Sparta had been at war for twenty years, and this play would have offered one of the few opportunities to laugh at war. The idea that Lysistrata could unite women to end the war would have set up the audience for a traditional battle between the sexes. However, there are also serious ideas to be found in Lysistrata ’s speeches. She reminds the audiences of the many men who have died during the Peloponnesian War, and the Chorus of Old Men emphasizes that there are no young men to take up their position. Aristophanes uses a woman to bring peace, but in doing so, he is pointing out to men that they have failed in their efforts to settle the war. With the failure of men, women are the only remaining hope for peace. There is no record that Aristophanes received any awards for Lysistrata , but the play’s popularity in modern productions points to its probable success on stage. In 1930, Lysistrata enjoyed a successful revival in New York City, which lasted for several months. It has inspired an opera, Lysistrata and the War, which was written in the early 1960s and first performed by the Wayne State University opera workshop, as a pro test to the Vietnam War. The theme of war and women’s efforts to invoke love as a replacement for war works as well in the twenty first century as they did in the late fifth century B.C. Aristophanes Biography Little is known of Aristophanes, except that his father, who was from Athens, may have been a property owner. When Aristophanes was born, Athens was at its most glorious, both culturally and politically. Born at about 450 B.C., Aristophanes was a young man when the Peloponnesian war was fought between Athens and Sparta. This war (431- 401 B.C.) provided some of the historical framework for Aristophanes’ comedies. Athen’s loss in this war affected Aristophanes, and in response, he used comedy to ridicule the political order responsible for the war and the city’s loss. Aristophanes’ sympathy with the aristocratic landowners and condemnation of the rulers of Athens makes him appear more revolutionary than many of his cohorts. Aristophanes is associated with the Old Comedy, or comoedia prisca, which is earthy and irreverent and willing to attack prominent people. Aristophanes’ comedies are the only ones to have survived from this period. Of the forty- four comedies he wrote, eleven have survived. The Athenian festival of Dionysis was the first festival, in 486 B.C., to officially include comedy. Aristophanes entered the festival and won three first prizes, which was less than either of his rivals, Cratinus and Eupolis. The themes of Aristophanes’ eleven surviving comedies reflect the poet’s dissatisfaction
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This note was uploaded on 01/20/2009 for the course ANTH 115 taught by Professor Kable during the Fall '08 term at UNC.

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Lysistrata - Introduction Lysistrata is often produced in...

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