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Characters in Lysistrata

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Hannah King

on 9 January 2014

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Transcript of Characters in Lysistrata

Characters in Lysistrata

Historical Context to Lysistrata
So what of the Men and Women?
So who are the 'men and women'?
The Choruses of Old Men and Women
Kinesias
411 BC
Lysistrata was performed in 411 BC, just before the coup of the 30 Tyrants and while the Peloponnesian War was still happening. As a play, it has great historical contexts that have many impacts on the messages of the play.
Aristophanes and Comic Drama
Aristophanes was an Athenian playwright, and so saw first hand the impact that the Peloponnesian War had on the citizens of Athens.
Lysistrata is an insight into the way that Aristophanes himself evaluated the situation between Athens and Sparta thorough a median that utilised comedy and humor to convey political messages to large numbers of recipients.
The Lenaia
Lysistrata was most likely performed at the Lenaia festival in Athens around the month of January. This season was a bad one for sailing and so the members of the audience at the Lenaia were usually all Athenian citizens, as people from other lands couldn't brave the rough seas. Whether through luck or pre-planning, this would mean that present in the audience of the Lenaia were exactly the people who were affected by the Peloponnesian War and so were more likely to take Aristophanes. messages on board.
Because they're all passed their prime means there is little actual sexual tension, particularly during the 'strip off'.
The women manage to take and defend the Acropolis, leaving the men both outwitted and overwhelmed.
We see the women beat the men physically and mentally.
Kinesias is fooled by his own wife, proving himself stupid, along with being a
representative of the naivety and simplicity of all the males involved.
He highlights all the negative aspects of the men. For example, idiocy, being a poor father and a misogynist.
He is comical.
The way he acts and speaks along with the way he's dressed and outdone by a woman falls into many categories of humour such as vulgar and physical. Above all, he makes the audience
laugh
and become more relaxed and
open to the underlying messages
of the comedy.

What effect do they have on the overall play?
What would the play be like without them?
'The Women'
'The Men'
The Men and The Women
461 - 430 BC
429 - 416 BC
403 - 379 BC
415 - 404 BC
478 - 462 BC
490 - 479 BC
Height of Empires
Here was the height of Athenian empire throughout Greece, but also a struggle to maintain Athenian hegemony (imperial dominance of one city-state over another)
The Peloponnesian War Stage 1: Stalemate
It was during this period that the plague killed Pericles. Both sides agreed a treaty of peace (Peace of Nicias) which was supposed to last 50 years, but in reality only lasted 7.
The Peloponnesian War Stage 2: Crisis
Athens launched its disastrous Sicilian expedition. Pericles' nephew Alcibiades served as consultant to the enemy, Sparta, for a while, and Persia offered Sparta support. When Alcibiades returned to help Athens, they defeated the Peloponnesians at Cyzicus; then Lysander took control of the Spartan fleet and devastated the Greek navy despite their success at Aginusae, leading to Athens' surrender.
Post-Peloponnesian War
The Persian Wars
During and after the Persian Wars, Athens, with it's navy and Sparta, with it's infantry, came to dominate the Greek World.
The Delian League and Post-War Building
The Delian League was a collection of Ionian cities who agreed to mutual protection against the Persians. Athens was nominated the head and becomes imperial.
Foundation of Democracy
After Solon and his initial insight into democracy, Cleisthenes is cited as the first official of Athens' democratic period.
508 - 490 BC
The period with Spartan hegemony and the 30 tyrant oligarchy. However, radical democracy was soon reinstated but Athen's previous power is diminished
And would the play be as successful or convey Aristophanes' messages as clearly without them?
The Chorus of Women
The Old Women
1st, 2nd and 3rd Woman
The Chorus of Men
The Chorus Leader
Kinesias
The Spartan Delegation
The Athenians
'There's more in this than meets the eye...'
'So mockery is out for now...'
'Having no-one to shag in the middle of the night?'
The two choruses offer a definitive
comic element.
On a basic level, they make the audience laugh, making the experience more enjoyable for the audience as well as making any messages easier to convey and be accepted by the audience.
This means their rivalry is less about sex and more about the underlying issues of conflict involved.
The conflict is mocked further with the use of nude suits and strap-on phalli that add a real sense of the ridiculous.
This conveys the idea that men are so easily outmaneuvered by those as low in society as women, giving us an insight into Aristophanes' opinion on the men out there involved in the Peloponnesian War.
There is also a real
dynamic relationship between the actions of the choruses that mirror background actions and issues
of the narrative.
For example, when the tension between the men and women increases, so does the tension in the war.
Similarly, when peace is declared, the two choruses join together as one. A real visualisation of how war can bring together, but also divide.
Also, the power struggle between the male and female choruses reveals the need for both political but also domestic input into society to make it stable as stereotypes are played on heavily.
The stereotypical presentation of the women give a
backdrop that makes Lysistrata appear more logical
and different from the others as she offers new and different ideas;
something Aristophanes thought the Peloponnesian War needed.
Similarly the stereotypical men show how
Lysistrata, a women, outwit, construct and carry through plans better than any of the men.
Very much criticizing the male leaders involved in the Peloponnesian War.
'Myrrie baby...'
'Let's lie down...'
'You gods!'
He is the manifestation of Aristophanes
making fun of the male gender, specifically the male leaders involved in the Peloponnesian War
and the horrendous misjudgments they were making.
Overall, Kinesias' character confirms that one of Aristophanes' messages of Lysistrata is one of the
mocking of the male gender,
specifically the male generals leading Athens to destruction in the Peloponnesian War.
The Athenian and Spartan Delegates
'We're in the wrong...'
'...in a state of severe tension...'
The delegates are a direct
representation of the actual delegates
involved in the Peloponnesian War, the difference being that Aristophanes' delegates are very
idealistic
, able to make peace easily and quickly, something the real delegates seem to be unable to do.
The delegates from both Athens and Sparta suffer from the same 'problems' as a result of the sex strike. This shows that they're all men, all subject to the same thing and, in essence,
are all the same.
They show that they are all part of the same race and are united on all fronts apart from the war,
showing the war to be pointless and stupid.
However, the delegates are still only really able to
make peace through sexual imagery
, and because of sexual deprivation. Aristophanes is still
mocking males and male priorities.
1st/2nd/3rd Women
'I want to go home...'
'Why, the baby must be a boy!'
These three women show the very
stereotypical
side of the women in the play. This
gives Lysistrata heightened intelligence
and strength in comparison, giving her ideas and plans more standing.
The
fast-pace dynamic
thanks to the constant word-play of the scenes with these women lends itself to conveying the almost
frenzied mind-set
of all the women at the thought of not having sex.
Aristophanes shows that even the
women have a need for sex
and in turn
mocks human weakness
as a whole.
Aristophanes also
criticizes the women
involved,
keeping within the social paradigms
of the time. He plays on what women and men should and shouldn't be.

The women act as though the insults and deprecating comments are normal and even criticize themselves at times.
Aristophanes'
audience would be mainly men
, he is keeping up with expectations and making sure that the messages he wishes to portray are not overshadowed by outrage at women being 'out of their place'.
Visual humour
'Can't you see that happened long ago [gesturing at his phallus]'
Situation Comedy
'Now just lie down, damn you, and don't bring me anything more for any reason.'
Vulgar Humour
'...who's left for me to screw?'
'Could I please hire a nurse for my poor young orphan prick?'
Farce - ridiculous, exaggerated situation
'By Zeus, I don't need one! All I need is a fuck!'
Visual Humour
'[Enter a party of Spartan Delegates, with the now familiar bulge in their clothes...]'
Impersonation /Stereotyping
Satirical Verbal Humour
'I've no need tae answer...ye can see for yersel's...'

'..if ye'll give us back this roond hill.'
'Ah, here are our true born Athenian representatives...'

'Here's the long-bearded Spartan delegation...'
Vulgar Topical Allusions
'
'If we don't make peace right away we'll end up shagging Kleisthenes!'
Verbal Humour

1st Women:...I'll only spread them on the bed.
Lysistrata: You're not spreading anything on any bed...
Visual Humour
'[A Third Woman runs out of the Acropolis, clutching her bulging belly]'

'[She lifts up Third Woman's dress to reveal a large bronze helmet]'
Topical Allusions
'...holy Eileithyia...'

'...since I saw the Guardian Serpent.'

'Those owls with their infernal honking...'
Satire
'You can stay here until your helmet has been carried round the hearth.'
Topical Allusions
'Whence we dislodged the great Kleomenes...'

'...or our trophy should not stand at Marathon.'

'...served as a Grinder to Brauron...'
Situation Comedy/ Physical Humour
'[...the two choruses face each other...]

'[The Men remove their tunics.]

'Let's take our strip-act to the second stage.'
Vulgar Humour
-sexual innuendo
'...I'd better make sure that I've got some fire still alive in my pot - It would really be sad if I thought that I had and then found in the end that I'd not.'
Visual Humour
'[...the Women putting him in various adornments which they themselves have been wearing.]'
Verbal Humour
'...tear out your hair...'

meaning 'shearing' as the men's hair is white like sheep's wool.
Full transcript