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Lysistrata | Quotes

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1.

But how'll you convince the Athenian mob?/They're mad for war.


Lampito, Prologos

Lampito is Lysistrata's most stalwart ally, but she doubts Lysistrata's plan for peace because it doesn't depend only on the women's sex strike. The women recognize their society has succumbed to a sort of madness for war. This includes the young men who fight, the old men who foment war for their own purposes, and the "mob" that seems to have lost sight of what is right and good in society. Lysistrata's mission is larger, then; it is to restore society to its right mind.

2.

I'm watering you to make you bloom.


Leader of the Women's Chorus, Parodos

When the Chorus of Old Men try to smoke Lysistrata and her companions out of the Acropolis, the Chorus of Old Women douse the fires and the men with water. It's a shocking gesture that insults the men, but it's also a loving one. The women want not only to prevent the immediate disaster but also to restore the men to their better selves—to help their humanity bloom, metaphorically speaking.

3.

I'd prefer to sit quietly ... /And not ... /agitate the nest, unless someone disturbs the hive.


Leader of the Women's Chorus, Agon

Here the Leader of the Women's Chorus compares herself to a queen bee. (The Chorus of Old Women are a venerable group from the city's upper class.) Her words make it clear the women's mission is not a permanent change to the social order; instead, the women object to the disorder men have wrought through constant warfare.

4.

Our leading politicians/need a chance to steal. That's the reason/they're always stirring up disturbances.


Lysistrata, Agon

Lysistrata realizes high-level corruption has been one cause of the ongoing war. Politicians stirred up trouble for personal gain rather than the good of the state. For this reason Lysistrata is determined to keep politicians from getting at the treasury.

5.

For men,/even old ones ..., can .../marry some young girl. For women time soon runs out.


Lysistrata, Agon

In her argument with the Magistrate, Lysistrata claims war brings more suffering to women than to men like him. It was common for Greek men to marry much younger women. Coming back from a years-long campaign, an old man might take a new young wife; women, on the other hand, grew old waiting for their men to come home, if they came home at all.

6.

Shut up for you, you witch—someone/with a scarf around her head? I'd sooner die!


Magistrate, Agon

The Magistrate's power of argument is no match for Lysistrata's. Time and again, confronted by her unassailable logic, he resorts to personal attacks or attacks on women in general. In this case he attacks her for wearing a traditional headscarf; Lysistrata responds by taking off her scarf and wrapping it around his head. Symbolically reversing their roles, Lysistrata declares, "This business of the war/we women will take care of."

7.

I make contributions to the state—/I give birth to men ... /You contribute nothing!


Chorus of Old Women, Parabasis

In this choral song, the Chorus of Old Women echo an argument Lysistrata has made to the Magistrate in the agon: women contribute more to war than men because women give birth to the sons who fight and die. The old women go further than Lysistrata in their attack on the Chorus of Old Men, who have squandered the state's surplus and pay no taxes.

8.

Any time she licks/... an egg, she says,/'...if only this could be Cinesias.'


Lysistrata, Episode 2

Lysistrata's verbal prowess is impressive. She has already shown she excels at argument; here she shows she is a master of the double entendre as well. Unlike Myrrhine, who will use her physical assets in a strip tease to bring her husband to his knees, Lysistrata achieves her goals with words alone.

9.

There's no wild animal harder to control/Than women, not even blazing fire.


Leader of the Men's Chorus, Stasimon 2

In this passage the Leader of the Men's Chorus compares women to forces of nature, including fire (and in the next line a panther). In a gesture of reconciliation the Leader of the Women's Chorus helps the men's leader—who had thrown off his clothes in a fit of madness—get dressed; she tells him, "Now at least you look like a man again," and not a hairy beast. Both the old men and the old women have been showing their baser, animal natures.

10.

Show that you're ... /stern but yielding, with a good heart but mean,/stately but down-to-earth.


Leader of the Chorus, Episode 3

The chorus, now speaking as a united body of old men and women, encourages Lysistrata to broker the peace talks. Having learned their lesson from their wild and woolly confrontations, the old men and women are in a position to advise Lysistrata on the virtues of moderation. Their advice suggests she must balance the masculine and the feminine, the animal and the civilized.

11.

You have barbarian enemies, and yet/with your armed expeditions you destroy/Greek men and cities.


Lysistrata, Episode 3

In this passage Lysistrata chides the Athenian and Spartan Ambassadors for their nations' ongoing war. Unlike men, Greek women are capable of working together for a common goal, as Lysistrata has demonstrated. In the speech containing this passage she reminds the ambassadors that their nations have also worked together productively in the past and suggests they can in the future.

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