58. Lysistrata, by Aristophanes (411 BC)

Plot : The Athenian woman Lysistrata hatches a plot with her friends and the other wives and lovers of Athenian and Spartan men, to refuse sex with them until the War can be ended. They barricade themselves inside the Acropolis where the monies to rebuild the Athenian fleet are kept. The men on all sides soon succumb to the boycott, incapacitated as they are with huge erections.

Finishing this play also completes my work with the Penguin edition Lysistrata and other plays, translated by Alan Sommerstein (ISBN 0140448144)

My thoughts : Essentially a one-joke comedy, Lysistrata is not as satisfying as The Wasps, The Clouds or The Thesmophoriazusae. It is more blatant in its bawdiness and doesn’t have the same level of quirky surrealism. But it is a fun romp and is probably more popular in modern retellings thanks to its sex strike theme.

Favourite lines/passages:

Lysistrata’s stratagem begins to bite

O what, tell me what, is there left for me to do?

And, robbed of her beauty, who’s there for me to screw?

Philostratus, I need you, do come and help me quick

Could I please hire a nurse for my poor young orphan prick?                                   Cinesias

What heart, what soul, what bollocks could long endure this plight,

Having no one to shag in the middle of the night?                             Male chorus, page 179

 Personal rating : 5

Next : The Phonecian Women, by Euripides


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