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Aristophanes' comic masterpiece of war and sex remains one of the greatest plays ever written. Led by the title character, the women of the warring city-states of Greece agree to withhold sexual favours with their husbands until they agree to cease fighting. The war of the sexes that ensues makes Lysistrata a bawdy comedy without peer in the history of theatre.

132 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 424

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1,763 books596 followers
Aristophanes (Greek: Αριστοφάνης; c. 446 BCE – c. 386 BCE) was a playwright of ancient Athens.

About 11 of his works are known in full, and they are the only plays of the "Old Comedy" style to have survived. They are The Acharnians, The Birds, The Clouds, The Ecclesiazusae, The Frogs, The Knights, Peace, Plutus (Wealth), The Thesmophoriazusae, and The Wasps. These plays have been translated into many languages and continue to be staged or adapted for theatrical productions.

Aristophanes satirized the political and social issues of 5th-century-BC Athens, such as the ongoing Peloponnesian War, the structure of the city-state, the role of women in public life, and the influence of philosophers (notably Socrates) in shaping public opinion.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,385 reviews
Profile Image for Seth.
18 reviews43 followers
June 20, 2007
I hate this book because I got arrested on account of it. I was at the University of Texas' Perry Castaneda Library and it got lost amidst the shuffled stack of books which I dumped into my backpack when I left.

Exiting the library the sensor went off.

Sorry, I forgot to check it out. No big deal, happens all the time.

But the Department of Collegiate Fascism, aka the UTPD, are required to file a report. Bored from arresting 19-year-olds for walking down the street half drunk they show up like it's the scene of a hostage crisis. And, unlucky me, it turns out I have a warrant for an unpaid alcohol-possession ticket.

Still, no big deal. I can go down to the station and pay it. Fine. But this is the lobby of a large student library and I am surrounded by my fellow students, all of us dutifully studying on a Tuesday night. As such, might I please just walk out to the police car?



GOTCHA COVERED BUDDY! [Loudly cocks shotgun]


[Sound of testes being crunched by human fist]


[Sound of me being viciously shackled]


[Egregious violence]


[Sound of manacled body being dragged across library lobby, accompanied by the stunned silence of onlookers]

Thus ended my experience with Lysistrata. I never got to the ending, although in later years my various girlfriends, in the manner of Ghandi protesting English oppression of the Indian subcontinent, were wont to use "Lysistratan nonaction" to protest my rampant drinking and proneness to random street violence.

Not recommended.
Profile Image for Ian "Marvin" Graye.
860 reviews2,186 followers
February 8, 2013

Some Greek men, you’ll discover,
Being a lesser lover
Than a renderer of war,
Treat their wives much like a whore.

So one day, Lysistrata,
Equipped with all the data,
Reckoned upon a tactic
To withhold love climactic.

She aimed to end all conflict
With some cohorts she had picked,
To flaunt breasts and nothing hide,
Though, ‘til peace, men were denied.

Males came with their pricks erect,
Revealed for all to inspect,
Still their wives rejected them,
Until war they would condemn.

So the violence did decrease
And the warring tribes made peace,
A gently handled magic wand
Made sure a double entendre.

At play’s end, the sun went down
On the whole of Athens town
And nothing followed after,
But the echoes of laughter.


Illustration by Norman Lindsay
Profile Image for Manny.
Author 29 books13.6k followers
Want to read
October 12, 2019
People who are currently sleeping with an academic may be interested to know that I just sent the following GENUINE letter to an Elsevier journal, in response to a request to review a paper. If this catches on, don't blame Not. Blame Aristophanes.

Dear Professor ██████,

My girlfriend, on whom I rely for advice in ethical matters, has researched Elsevier's business model in some detail. She says that, after careful consideration, she would not be able to sleep with someone who continued to review for an Elsevier journal.

Given my girlfriend's uncompromising stance on this issue, I am afraid that I must decline your offer to review this paper and ask you to remove me permanently from your list of reviewers.


"Lysistrata's Guy"
Profile Image for AiK.
491 reviews112 followers
March 1, 2023
Аристофан, древнегреческий комедиограф, написал замечательную пацифистскую пьесу, главными героинями которой являются женщины. Удивительно, что в V веке до нашей эры, сознание достигло того, чтобы говорить о правах женщины, может и не о всех, но хотя бы о домашней работе целиком возложенной на плечи женщины: «Из дома трудно выйти женщине. Одна, о муже хлопоча, забегалась, Той слуг не добудиться, эта – нянчится с ребенком, та – стирает, у другой квашня». Дело происходит во время Пелопонесской войны, истощающей Афины и Спарту в бессмысленной войне. Лисистрата, главная героиня, выражает гражданскую позицию: «Но долг свой предпочесть они должны Всему» «Эллады всей спасенье ныне – в женщинах!» «Когда ж всех стран соединятся женщины: Коринфянки, спартанки, беотиянки И мы,-- так вместе мы поможем эллинам.» Она призвала всех женщин со всех воюющих сторон. Лисистрата убеждает женщин воздержаться, объявить что-то вроде сексуальной забастовки, не заниматься сексом с супругами ��о их отказа от ведения войны. Поначалу женщины бурно выражают свое несогласие. Поддержка Лампито, женщины из противоборствующей стороны, помогает достичь согласия. Все дают клятву. Афинянки захватывают Акрополь с целью не дать пользоваться казной для войны. Лисистрата объясняет: «Для того, чтобы золотом вашим владеть и чтоб вы воевать перестали. На вопрос Советника: «Так думаешь ты, золото – корень войны?» героиня отвечает: «И войны, и раздоров, и смуты. Для того, чтобы мог наживаться Писандр и другие правители ваши». Она отрицает, что они хотят насилия: «Не насилья – спасенья». Их акция встречает рьяное сопротивление воинственно настроенных стариков, вооружившихся хворостом и огнем. Доходит до пожара и рукоприкладства, но женщины дают отпор – обливают стариков водой, как могут сопротивляются стражникам-скифам, кусают, царапают и… побеждают. Когда с войны приходят их мужья они остаются верны своей клятве – ухаживают за мужчинами, выказывают заботу, но воздерживаются от любви, доводя их до исступления и принятия их условия не воевать. Дело заканчивается миром и любовью!
В пьесе содержится гениальная идея о женском начале, лежащем в основе гуманизма, противления войне, ее неприятия. Женщины активно выражают свой протест, они могут организоваться, они могут встать выше распрей, ведущих к войне, и смотреть на мир с позиций мира, возвращения своих мужей с полей сражений к семейному очагу. Нет нужды упоминать, как эта пьеса современно звучит и сегодня
Profile Image for Calista.
3,880 reviews31.2k followers
December 16, 2020
Love this book second time around.

This is one of my favorite stories out there. I first read this in high school or college, I don't remember. I then bought the book. It's such a great idea.

Women are unhappy with how things are going in their town, so they come together and decide to withhold sex from their men until things change. I find this hilarious and such a breath of fresh air. Who knows, maybe this is a way to get change, but its more amusing to me. I think it's better to just have woman helping to shape the law than simply withholding sex and asking men to do the right thing. Anyway.

A book about sex and politics and humor. It's the best of all those worlds. There is a lot here and I recommend people give this classic a read.
Profile Image for Duane.
828 reviews404 followers
October 6, 2016
How old is the idea of women withholding sex from men to get what they want? Well, apparently as far back as 405 BC, because that's what happens in this hilarious (and bawdy) Greek comedy. In this play it was "en masse"' with the singular purpose of bringing peace between the warring Athenians and Spartans. Did it work? Well, what do you think?
Profile Image for Alex.
1,418 reviews4,382 followers
May 12, 2019
Today Alyssa Milano called for a sex strike in response to Georgia's abortion ban, which raises two questions: 1) Alyssa Milano is still a thing?! and 2) Haven't I heard this before? I can help with the second thing. Milano got it from Aristophanes, who in 411 BC invented the sex strike and, for all you know, dildos.


It's 411 BC and Athens is deep in the Peloponnesian War with Sparta and everyone's pretty stressed about it. In Aristophanes' brilliantly simple idea, the women of both sides organize and throw a sex strike. "Stop fighting," they say, "Or no more humping!" The plot is that they say that and then it works. There's some stuff about dildos, for obvious reasons, but that's about all there is to it. Unfortunately it was a made-up story; in real life this didn't happen and Athens lost the war and that was basically the end of the Golden Age of Democracy. But the play is great - easily Aristophanes's best surviving play - funny and filthy and don't forget, the thing about Greek plays is that you can knock one out in an hour and a glass of wine, so why haven't you read this?

Translation and illustration courtesy of Valerie Schrag for The Graphic Canon

Alyssa Milano, who played a kid on the 80s TV show Who's The Boss and is now still a thing, isn't the first to try the Lysistrata strategy. It's been done in places as diverse as Colombia, Nigeria, and Italy. It comes up in the US every time Republicans do something particularly assheaded (so, daily).

It's not an ineffective strategy, and I don't mean to belittle Alyssa Milano, who performed the voice of "Bimini" in 2012's Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2 and is totally still a thing. Georgia's abortion ban is a nightmare and if this is what it takes it's a small price to pay. (That's what she said! Dunked on my own dick!) And the play's not ineffective either. Like all the best ideas, it's extremely simple and it involves dildos.

Valerie Schrag, as mentioned above, has a comic version for the Graphic Canon that's super fun but pretty direly abridged.
Douglass Parker has one for this common Aristophanes collection that's fine but it's trying very very hard to be as cool as Aristophanes was and failing. If you've found a great translation, please do let me know.
Profile Image for Steven  Godin.
2,377 reviews2,254 followers
October 12, 2020
Looking at the themes of sex and gender, this bawdy anti-war sex comedy, of which I found rather amusing, was first staged in 411 BCE. In simplistic terms, the play is the account of one woman's extraordinary mission to end the Peloponnesian War, as Lysistrata convinces the women of Greece to withhold sexual privileges from their husbands as a means of forcing the men to negotiate a peace. In other words its like a sex strike! Lysistrata, a strong minded Athenian with a great sense of individual responsibility, reveals her plan to take matters into her own hands and end the interminable war between Athens and Sparta. She has convened a meeting of women from various city states in Greece and, with support from the Spartan Lampito, she explains to the other women her plan, which Leads to some really laughable moments.

Modern adaptations of the play are often performed with a feminist and/or pacifist viewpoint, but the original all the way back then was neither particularly feminist nor unreservedly pacifist. Even while apparently demonstrating empathy with the female condition, Aristophanes still tended to reinforce sexual stereotyping of women as irrational creatures in need of protection from themselves and from others. Certainly, it seems clear that Aristophanes was not actually advocating real political power for women.

Lysistrata herself, though, is clearly an exceptional woman and, even when the other women waver in their resolution, she remains strong and committed. She is usually quite separate from the other women: she does not herself exhibit any sexual desire, has no obvious lovers or husband and does not purposely flirt with men; she is smarter, wittier and generally adopts a more serious tone than the other women. the humour throughout is highly topical and the playwright expected his audience to be familiar with myriad local personalities, places and issues, a difficulty faced by any producer trying to stage Lysistrata for modern audiences. As well as the slapstick comedy and the raucous and risqué double-entendres, much of the humour in the play derives from the audience’s knowledge of specific figures from Athens’ public life and recent history.

Known as the 'Father of Comedy', this was great fun, and I just can't quite believe its as old as it is. I imagine it will never feel dated, long live Aristophanes!
Profile Image for Praj.
314 reviews796 followers
March 29, 2013
It had been quite awhile since I contemplated over any books let alone penning a critical appraisal on Goodreads. It was tough trying to get words out of the overwhelming emotional vortex; an obstinate ketchup bottle ignoring the need of a fried potato for the tangy goodness. So, when Brian suggested a group reading of Lysistrata, I was a bit apprehensive. A Greek playwright crossing the dreaded course of fallen heroic tragedies; even more remorse to my cerebral coma; not a luxurious indulgence at the moment. Lysistrata is a woman’s name; yes it is and sex is the weapon used to hem the broken olive branch.

“To husband or lover, I’ll not open arms. Though love and denial may enlarge his charms. But still at home, ignoring him, I’ll stay. Bountiful, clad in saffron silk all day. If then he seizes me with by dint of force, I’ll give him reason for a long remorse. I’ll never lie and stare up at the ceiling. Nor like a lion on all four go kneeling. If I keep faith then bounteous cups be mine. Do you swear to this? Then I shall immolate the victim thus.”

Holding a pair of olive logs, a vine torch and a small pot of live embers; Lysistrata and her women folk thus embarked on an egalitarian journey within the locked Acropolis citadel; a long awaited unified cry of misplaced wisdom. Neither the pointless sexist blabber from unassailable old men who rather burn the protesters than give a patient ear nor the wailing of desperate husbands and lovers could shake the well rooted fortitude of this rebellious bunch. Peace is what they strive at the cost of their fornication. We pay taxes, manage finesse with domestic budgetary, and give birth to descendants who will render their youth to deathly absurdities in a unproductive war. Abandoned voices yearning to be heard outside the bedroom in the ubiquitous courtyards of masochism.

I’m a free woman; screams this slap-stick engaging play. Aristophanes delineated a cohesive front; an equalized gender dais debating the validity of aggressive hostilities. Wars not only annihilate countries but families too. Common sense is a rarity and idiocy the universal daily crow of a proud rooster. Underestimating the weak is the biggest blunder of an astute strategist. And, 'Groupthink' is not just a term coined by a confident Mr. Janis; harried egocentric faulty pronouncements can even corrupt sincerity. Remember the ‘Bay of Pigs’?? Nevertheless all is not lost and the inbred humor prances around like a spring rabbit. One cannot help but laugh when distressed over the abstinence issue Myrrhine’s husband Cinesias brings their child to convince to come back to a lovely home and a lonely husband. Even after pledging to bringpeace to the land, Myrrhine does not give in to the carnal needs bringing Cinesias to tear his hair out.

A wicked thing, as I repeat.
O Zeus, O Zeus,
Canst Thou not suddenly let loose
Some twirling hurricane to tear
Her flapping up along the air
And drop her, when she's whirled around,
Here to the ground
Neatly impaled upon the stake
That's ready upright for her sake

Baudrillard was precise in inferring the power of seduction to be greater than the act itself.

"Master the kitchen, master the bedroom and so shall rule your husband". The evergreen thumb rule of triumph of one of my elderly aunt’s long-lasting marriage. In a world devoid of any sex toys or cinematic screenings, sex and food was the ultimate seduction of power. “Buy me the silver or no midnight climaxes!” You want me to clean after you; my closed legs will be your eternal marriage gift!”.... Can sex be really used as a weapon by ladies of all societal strata? Power seekers beware of the fairer sex for they have unfailing artillery!! Is the abstinence of sex capable of stopping mindless male aggression of power? Could Silvio Berlusconi minimize the impact of EU crisis if Ruby had protested the Bunga Bunga? Gaddafi would not have met with such a brutal death for being a scoundrel of a dictator. An excellent point put forth by Brian, about the Iraq War; wonders if the search of the indiscernible WMDs would have stopped if Mrs.Bush along with Mrs. Blair transpired Lysistrata proposal at the White House. The new democratic gesticulation could discipline the wildest of men, Napoleon would have been the best candidate; as the saying goes small men huge “ego”. Aristophanes is undoubtedly a visionary for banishing the discrepancies of gender biases bequeathing the ‘weaker’ sex with a new leash of power and control. No more will the patriarchal societies characterize gender roles and women no longer will be pretty bodies sitting on a vagina. Lysistrata’s protest was not designated to demoralize the validity of manhood, but an outright memo of the rarity of common sense and advocacy of peace over a senseless war fought for decades. The weak can be strong when they stand up for their rights and cannot be easily dismissed by mere ignorance. Not only wars, but numerous crimes against can be stopped with the ongoing strategy. The only fear looms is of how long it will be until the newly acquired democratic forum spits an authoritative fire. But, that is yet a farsighted destination and as of now, peace was ultimately restored and the Greeks merrily celebrated with abundance wine and sex. Wasn't that (sex) the ultimate catch after all?

Earth is delighted now; peace is the voice of earth.
Spartans, sort out your wives: Athenians, yours.
Let each catch hands with his wife and dance his joy,
Dance out his thanks, be grateful in music,
And promise reformation with his heels.

Profile Image for Liz Janet.
579 reviews381 followers
May 4, 2016
TV Commercial: Does your husband and the men of Athens just want to wage war? Do they ignore your pleas for peace no matter how long the Peloponnesian War has been going on? Tired of your men's stupid decisions in such a trying time? Do you wish to end it? Well women of Athens, you are in luck, we have the solution for you, withhold sex from your husbands and lovers, that will bring them back with their tails between their feet and a signed peace document.
Women of Athens: Would that not just create divisions between the sexes and a sort of war between the citizens?
TV Commercial: ehhhh, most likely. But, their idiocy must be stopped.
Lysistrata: You have got a deal! I am starting now. Women let us meet! My time has come to convince you to withhold sex so we can have peace. This cannot possibly backfire.

Now that that is aside, THIS IS NEITHER A FEMINIST PLAY, NOR A PACIFIST ONE. I understand why modern readers might interpret it as such, but at the time it was written,and many years after, it was clear that the view was that women were a nuisance that needed to be protected from themselves. It basically begins with these lines:
There are a lot of things about us women
That sadden me, considering how men
See us as rascals.
As indeed we are!

Not the greatest sentence for a supposedly feminist play.

Now this is also quite a crude play, maybe even more so than the Bard himself. In it men walk about with erect penises for no other reason that them being denied sex and unable to control erections. We have a woman that sort of teases her lover by saying she will do him and them promptly bringing a bed, a mattress, a pillow, a blanket, some oil, and then ends up running back up to the Acropolis where the women are holding out. Their oath to not have sex tells them not to do a certain sexual pose that apparently was popular back then.
I would say this play is a bit offensive to men, not as much as women, but it does dictate that men cannot function unless their penis is inside someone's vagina. That kind of does them a disservice.
Here's a few reasons why it is not feminist:
-The first lines of the play as written above.
-Majority of women, except Lysistrata, are presented as voluptuaries.
-A magistrate arrives and starts spouting about how women are hysterical and that men should keep better hold of them.
-He proceeds to also claim they have too much of a liking to wine, promiscuous sex, and for some weird reasons, exotic cults.
-There are two women with these names: "seed-market-porridge-vegetable-sellers" and "garlic-innkeeping-bread-sellers".
-Lysistrata uses a woman for her beauty to distract the men enough to have them sign peace.

I did laugh nonetheless, I prefer to read it as satire, it makes the funny and cringe worthy moments all the more fun.
Profile Image for Chavelli Sulikowska.
226 reviews220 followers
April 16, 2020

How do you translate comedy that is more than 25 centuries old? With ease apparently, Lysistrata, first performed way back in 411 BC is just as funny now as it must have been for the ancient Greeks! It was while holidaying in the Peloponnese that it occurred to me to brush up on the ancient Greek classics. A good decision since it really contextualised all the history I was literally walking over every day.

The play commences in 431–404 BC with the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta. Almost all the men are engaged in what seems to be an interminable conflict. It is Athenian woman, Lysistrata who decides on an unusual course of action to bring the war to an end and restore peace – she calls on women from all the warring states to refuse their men sex until peace is achieved! As you can imagine, this may have been a measure welcomed by many women, but generally unpopular with the gents…

There is much debate between the women leading this movement and the men in power, and the dialogue is very witty and funny as justifications for and arguments against are bantered back and forth. Aristophanes is known primarily as a comedian and the play is certainly amusing, though the underlying message is quite sombre: there are very few solutions to war. In reality the Peloponnesian War has been raging for twenty years by the time the play was first staged, and it still wasn’t over. The powerhouse that had been Athens was effectively reduced to a pile of rubble and Sparta emerged as the new seat of power. Albeit at a massive cost to life. It equally raises pertinent questions about the traditional roles of women in society and highlights gender inequality - the fact that the women know that the most effective tool to curb men's behaviour is through their bodies clearly underlines that not much has changed in terms of gender bias over the centuries!

An exceptional (and timely) read for me. The ancient Greeks never cease to amaze me with their skills and knowledge in just about everything. Make sure you read a well translated copy.
Profile Image for Pink.
537 reviews498 followers
September 14, 2015
This was hilarious. Women withholding sex until all the men stopped the war. What an imaginative idea. I especially liked how the women fought against their own desires despite being in heat. Several laugh out loud moments for me.
Profile Image for Jenny.
153 reviews54 followers
June 7, 2016
Σκληρός πολιτικός σχολιασμός μέσω του χιούμορ.Δυναμικές γυναίκες που υποστηρίζουν τη θέση τους στην κοινωνία και το δικαίωμα να έχουν λόγο στις αποφάσεις.Βαθιά αντιπολεμικό.Εξαιρετικό!
Αν έχετε μια κάποια άνεση με τα αρχαία ελληνικά,δοκιμάστε να διαβάσετε το αρχαίο κείμενο παράλληλα με τη μετάφραση,αξίζει πραγματικά.Μου πήρε το διπλάσιο χρόνο να το τελειώσω,αλλά χάρηκα τη μαστοριά του Αριστοφάνη!
Profile Image for Clif Hostetler.
1,076 reviews711 followers
April 8, 2021
This play gives women credit for trying to make the world a more peaceful place as early as 2400 years ago. Women on both sides of the Peloponnesian war unite in a sex strike. No more sex until there's peace.

This play's reputation is that of an anti-war drama. Ending war is a serious matter, thus it was my expectation this play to be a somber effort of the part of women to knock some common sense into the minds of their men. Instead it was a comedy first, and an anti-war message second. The foolishness and absurdity of war is laughed at which diminishes the attraction of war, but the comic treatment is too slapstick for my tastes.

One part of the plot that's not as famous as the sex strike is the fact that the women occupy the Athen's treasury building to deprive the government of the funds required to wage war. When an armed person is ordered to clear out the female occupiers, he is flustered and hesitates because he's not sure how to use force on women.

This is comedy written 2400 years ago. Some of the jokes require footnotes to explain why it's funny (i.e. making fun of other ancient politicians and playwrights). However the humorously indecent jokes about sex need no explanations. Aristophanes' writing is so bawdy that it's embarrassing to the sensibilities of polite company today. Men walking across stage with prominent erect penises begging for sexual relief can be accepted as a comic over-the-top characterization of men's sexual appetites and their expectations of women. Unfortunately, the power of women to force men to end war by withholding sexual favors is also an unrealistic exaggeration.

If Aristophanes were alive today, I have no doubt that he would have his own late night TV talk/comedy show of his own. His monologue would probably have a lot of words bleeped out.
Profile Image for Jesús De la Jara.
717 reviews86 followers
February 17, 2021
"¡Oh sexo disoluto! ¡Y luego nos admiraremos de ser maltratadas en tragedias! Sólo servimos para el amor"

Esta comedia definitivamente es una de las que menos risa me ha causado de Aristófanes, sobre todo porque a mi parecer no tiene tanta, ni las situaciones y parlamentos son tan desubicados como de costumbre, aparte que las bromas creo yo están fundadas en palabras bastante subidas de tono que no me hicieron tanta gracia. El tema sin embargo conmueve un poco pues sabiendo el resultado que tuvo la guerra del Peloponeso y el argumento de la obra llama un poco a la reflexión.
La historia empieza con el llamamiento que hace Lisístrata a las mujeres, ella es una heroína en toda regla, quien harta de la Guerra Civil en Grecia entre Atenas y Esparta, decide reunirlas para lograr con ellas que los hombres hagan la paz. Su plan es privar a los hombres de tener sexo con ellas. al hacerlo muchas mujeres inicialmente impetuosas (cansadas también de verse privadas de sus maridos o a veces muertos) posteriormente van decayendo por sus propias "ansias". Entre ellas se encuentran Calónice, Mírrina y otras más.
Todo este alboroto llamará la atención a los ancianos y a otros magistrados quienes al inicio indignados y despreciándolas luego se dan cuenta que serán un hueso duro de roer.
Como menciono el final demasiado idílico contrasta con la dura realidad que pasó la ciudad de Atenas lo que me llama a compasión.

"Nosotras tenemos doble parte (en la guerra), pues primero parimos los hijos y los enviamos al ejército. Después, en vez de gozar en la flor de nuestra juventud de los placeres del amor, estamos como viudas, gracias a la guerra"
Profile Image for Mike.
483 reviews375 followers
January 4, 2016
I wouldn't be surprised if Lysistrata was the first sex comedy (that's a genre, right?). Sex (or lack there of ) drives the plot and innuendos abound:

Lysistrata: But I tell you, here's a far more weighty object.
Calonice: What is it all about, dear Lysistrata, that you've called the women hither in a troop? What kind of object is it?
Lysistrata: A tremendous one!
Calonice: And long?
Lysistrata: Indeed, it may be very lengthy.
Calonice: Then why aren't they here?
Lysistrata: No Man's connected with it; if that was the case, they'd soon come fluttering along. No, no. It concerns an object I've felt over and turned this way and that for sleepless nights.
Calonice: I must be fine to stand such long attention.

On its surface this play is about the women of Greece withholding sex from the men to force them to make peace during the destructive Peloponnesian War. In truth I am pretty sure Aristophanes just wanted an excuse to make as many sexual innuendos and gender stereotypes as possibly.

Lysistrata: We must refrain from every depth of love... Why do you turn your backs? Where are you going? Why do you bite your lips and shake your heads? Why are your faces blanched? Why do you weep? Will you or won't you [join me in the sex strike]...
Myrrhine: No I won't. Let the war proceed.


Cinesias: Don't go, please don't go, Myrrhine [his wife and a sex striker]. At least hear our child... don't you feel pity for the child? He's not been fed or washed now for six days.
Myrrhine: I certainly pity him with so heartless a father...
Cinesias: You love me! Then dear girl, let me also love you.
Myrrhine: You must be joking. The boy's looking on.
Cinesias: Here, Manes, take the child home! ... There, he's gone. There's nothing in the way now.

The women fret about their homes going to ruin while they are away. One even tries to fake a pregnancy:

Lysistrata: What nonsense is this?
Woman: I'll drop any minute
Lysistrata: Yesterday you weren't with child.
Woman: But I am today. O let me find a midwife Lysistrata. O Quickly!
Lysistrata: Now what story is this you tell? What is this hard lump here?
Woman: It's a male child.
Lysistrata: By Aphrodite, it isn't. Your belly's hollow, and it has the feel of metal... Well, I soon can see. You hussy, it's Athene's scared helm, and you said you were with child.

Some, however, are pretty damn good at messing with the mind's of their men:

Myrrhine: But how can I break my oath?
Cinesias: Leave that to me, I'll take all the risk
Myrrhine: Well, I'll make you comfortable
Cinesias: Don't worry. I'd as soon lie on the grass
Myrrhine: No, by Apollo, in spite of all your faults I won't have you lying on the nasty earth... Rest here on the bench, while I arrange my clothes. O what a nuisance, I must find some cushions first.
Cinesias: Why some cushions? Please don't get them!
Myrrhine: What? Plain, hard wood? Never, by Artemis! That would be too vulgar
Cinesias: Open your arms!
Myrrhine:...Here the cushions are. Lie down while I - O dear! but what a shame, you need more pillows.
Cinesias: I don't want them dear.
Myrrhine: But I do... Why, you've no blanket.
Cinesias: It's not the silly blanket's warmth but yours I want.
Myrrhine: Never mind. You'll soon have both. I'll come right back... Would you like me to perfume you?
Cinesias: By Apollo, no!
Myrrhine: By Aphrodite, I'll do it anyway!

etc etc etc

(Sufficed to say, the oath was not broken, though I think the poor man's will was)

Aristophanes also takes plenty of opportunities to insert sexual innuendo because he can:

[after peace has been agreed upon]
Athenians: I want to strip at once and plow my land.
Spartans: And mine I want to fertilize at once.


Men's chorus: We must take a stand and keep to it, for if we yield the smallest bit to their importunity then nowhere from their inroads will be left to us immunity...And if they mount, the Knights they'll rob of a job, for everyone knows how talented they all are in the saddle, having long practiced how to straddle...

In spite of all the sex and joking, the play does have a few good messages:

Lysistrata: You [men] wrack hellenic cities, bloody Hellas with deaths of her own sons, while yonder clangs the gathering menace of barbarians.


Lysistrata: It should not prejudice my voice that I'm not born a man, if I say something advantageous to the present situation. For I'm taxed too, and as a toll provide men for the nation while, miserable greybeards... contribute nothing of any importance whatever to our needs.

But mostly this was a play about sex and sex jokes that were shockingly modern in their convention (might have just been the translation). This was a quick and enjoyable read, just remember this was meant to be a bit of an absurdist satire so don't take the actions and decisions of the characters very seriously.
Profile Image for Leajk.
102 reviews73 followers
November 21, 2012
In the introductory note in my edition a Mr. Crofts mentions that the play "is notorious for its racy, almost pornographic humor". I'd say that this seems to be a bit of an overstatement.

Surely it is not that much more racy than say a William Shakespeare play or for that matter The Arabian Nights: Tales from a Thousand and One Nights? It is really all talk and no action. Surely we as modern readers can handle that? (And would anyone living in 1994, the date of this edition, really consider this pornographic?)

As for the drawings of Aubrey Beardsley (NSFW link), though they are lovely, they are also a bit... besides the point? I mean there's not actually any enormous penises running around in the play. At the most there's some naked wrinkly old men (ok, all men deciding to never read this play at this point, come back! It is a really fun play, you learn about Greek history and feel smart, yey!).

I'm not saying that there's not a fair amount of sexual innuendo in the play, how much seems to depend a bit on which translation you have. The Beardsley drawings are clearly a rather unsubtle hint on someone being a tease. It's just that... there so many other cool things going on as well.

The feminist-conspiracy-theorist part of my brain starts to wonder if all this talk about “oh, lordy lord women mentioning sex” is simply there to distract me from what the women are actually talking about: taking the power away from men.

Not only taking away the power, but claiming to be better at using is than the men. In this rendition the women are super clever pacifists, who'd make sure there be no war.

To be fair, women are not portrayed as through and through good. Lysistrata berate the other women throughout the play as being lazy drunkards who can't give up sex even for even a week. She starts of by saying that women will gather for festivities celebrating Bacchus (Dionysus), Pan or Aphrodite (which the translator notes illustrates their taste for “wanton pleasures”), but not for discussing serious matters. She then sees her neighbour and this happens:

“Lysistrata: Oh, Calonicé, my heart is on fire; I blush for our sex. Men will have it we are tricky and sly...

Calonicé: And they are quite right, upon my word!

Lysistrata: Yet, look you, when the women are summoned to meet for a matter of the last importance, they lie abed instead of coming.

Calonicé: Oh, they will come, my dear; but 'tis not easy you know, for a woman to leave the house. One is busy pottering about her husband; another is getting the servant up; a third is putting her child asleep or washing the brat or feeding it.”

This! This is exactly what feminists keep talking about, the difficulty of uniting women for a cause, the difficulty of combining sisterhood with family, and this was written around 2400 years ago!

When the women from near and afar are finally gathered and Lystratia lays forward her plan about depriving men of sex, the women instantly turn around and start to walk away. Give up sex? What nonsense! It is only after some persistent persuasion that Lysistrata manages the women to concur with her plan. The women lock themselves in the treasury of Athen and the old men of the town, and eventually the magistrate, gather to persuade them differently.

The perhaps best part is when one of the husbands arrives sex-crazed and sex-starved from a house in disarray to implore his wife to return back home. This scene gives a whole new dimension to the word tease.

Although the women of this book might have taken the moral high-ground, opposing war, it's obvious that Aristophanes uses the women as a group to represent the opposition that questions the status-quo, rather than saying than saying that all women are perfect (plus it doesn't hurt that it makes a good foundation for some good-ol' sex jokes).

There are some real gems in here about pacifism, feminism and gender roles:

“Lysistrata: To seize the treasury; no more money, no more war.”


“Magistrate: What do you propose to do then, pray?

Lysistrata: You ask me that! Why, we propose to administer the treasury ourselves

Magistrate: You do?

Lysistrata: What is there in that a surprise to you? Do we not administer the budget of household expenses?

Magistrate: But that is not the same thing.

Lysistrata: How so – not the same thing?

Magistrate: It is the treasury supplies the expenses of the War.

Lysistrata: That's our first principle – no War!”


“Magistrate: May I die a thousand deaths ere I obey one who wears a veil!

Lysistrata: If that's all that troubles you, here take my veil, wrap it round your head, and hold your tounge. Then take this basket; put on a girdle, card wool, munch beans. The War shall be women's business.

Chorus of women: […] Oh! my good, gallant Lysistrata, and all my friends, be ever like a bundle of nettles; never let you anger slacken; the wind of fortune blown our way.”


“Chorus of old men: How true the saying: 'Tis impossible to live with the baggages, impossible to live without 'em.”


“Chorus of old men: If we give them the least hold over us, 'tis all up! their audacity will know no bounds! We shall see them building ships, and fighting sea-fights like Artemisia*; nay if they want to mount and ride as cavalry, we had best cashier the knights, for indeed women excel in riding, and have a fine, firm seat for the gallop. Just think of all those squadrons of Amazons Micon has painted for us engaged in hand-to-hand combat with men.”

(*a queen who fought alongside with the Persian king Xerxes at sea)


“Lysistrata: Silence then! Now - 'Whenas the swallows, fleeing before the hoopoes, shall have all flocked together in one place, and shall refrain them from all amorous commerce, then will be the end of all the ills of life; yea, and Zeus, which doth thunder in the skies, shall set above what was once below...

Chorus of women: What! shall the men be underneath?

But if dissension do arise among the swallows, and they take wing from the holy Temple, 'twill be said there is never more wanton bird in all the world.'”

Again this excellent theme of the importance of women's unity. Sisterhood. Ah, how wonderful.

Oh, and of course we really like our men too. We don't actually want to take away all of you power, we'd just like to share it equally and discuss a thing our two. Like this thing with war...
Profile Image for david.
435 reviews
March 9, 2021
In the beginning, G-d created the heavens and the earth.

A short time thereafter, he created Adam, and from Adam, Eve.

Then there was nature.

Then some decorating.

It was then time to enact society, of which, it was decided by G-d, would be left to the people wandering around.

A Civilization was forming…

Soon after that first very hectic week, a philosopher appeared. What was unusual about him was his decidedly German accent, thousands of years before there was a Frankfurter.

But philosophy can be dry, even by Bedouin standards.

Next, the ground one day roared and with a great swell, rose a comic.

The comedienne, a female naturally, was strolling around Eden when she bumped into Adam.

She eyed this unusual creature, head to toe, and asked, “How did you do that?”

He looked down on his naked body and said, “Ah, it’s nothing.”

“I know,” she said, “but I must use it in my act. Where can I get one?”

Adam shrugged (pre-Atlas).

“I’ll just use yours,” said the determined comedienne, and she yanked and yanked but it would not come off.

The philosopher studied the interaction and ran behind a giant banyan tree and began to excogitate.

Within a month, the first high-Priest was seen passing out figs to some three-hundred-year-old children, or young people. “Only eat organic,” was his religious dogma. “And those leaves over there, the ones that numb your gums, chew in moderation.”

Not a week after, a psychologist was created to listen to the complaints that had begun amid earth’s increasing inhabitants. The recurring discussion that was heard from the patients in a quiet surrounding of bushes and dirt, was Smell.

Even with hundreds of hours of discussion, everything remained stirred and stinky, until one day Ug came upon a sea. Ug drowned quickly as he investigated it, but afterwards, everyone bathed there, careful not to recreate the accident that Ug had.

The psychologist had more time to discuss inbreeding (but I love my nephew), a very topical topic. And also, boredom. It was the same thing every day. “We have nothing to do.” The psychologist would frequently suggest playing with the smaller critters to her patients, but many were maimed and her patient list was not large.

There were several highly intelligent monkeys swinging through the trees. They were stopped and silenced, with bananas, by some of the elders (the ancients were, like, one thousand years old in those days).

“We are in need of three apes. One to become a magistrate and two more to act in the interests of those who are unfortunate. We will call you barristers. I must first warn you that all conflicts will be resolved pro bono because currency has not been invented yet. Do I have any volunteers?”

Say what you will about simians, but they are not dummies. They shrieked for hours and then for days. No compensation, no inflated bills, no churning, no retainers, no unnecessary depositions? So, they brought in the disinterested philosopher as arbiter, because there was suddenly no interest. He chose a magistrate, two advocates, and a billing/ accounts receivable monkey. Hypocrisy was learned by the four and agreed on between them as the a priori rule to apply to their lives and those they will subjugate.

Then came all the other elements of society we are all too familiar with. And with each new important person, G-d seemed to slip into the background. But maybe he was watching all the while.

Anyway, what does this have to do with Lysistrata? Not sure. Sometimes I key in stuff after mixing serotonin inhibitors just for fun. Let me think. Yeah. This guy, Aristophanes, was maybe the first Neil Simon or Oscar Wilde before they existed. He wrote these comedic plays a long time ago, maybe around 400 BCE. While wearing a tunic, which was in style then for both genders. Easy to wash and easy to fold and a little bit racy, if you are into the retro thing.

So, Stoph, as we called this playwright in those days, existed during the Peloponnesian Wars. The Spartans and the Athenians. They loved to fight. It seems like a very human wont. Lysistrata was a hot woman, even more persuasive with her flimsy tunic. Add to that brains, and the ability to motivate others, and affect change, and we have perhaps our first anti-war sit in.

She convinced all the women of a certain age to hang with her at the Acropolis and to lock the doors behind them. No men allowed. Think Chippendales without the Chippens.

She believed that depriving men of sex would induce them to cease warring. And that is all I am going to share because the topic is too disturbing for me to contemplate.

I love this stuff. Is there really anybody out there that believes that we ‘moderns’ are different from our ancestors?

This play can be read in one sitting. Quite funny.
Profile Image for Dagio_maya .
912 reviews256 followers
August 21, 2018
“Non esistono al mondo creature più sfrontate delle donne.” - (v. 369)

La guerra ventennale tra Atene e Sparta è diventata logorante per tutti ma gli uomini sono ciechi e sordi di fronte alla ragione e se nessuno li ferma continueranno a trucidarsi.
La scena si apre proprio su Lisistrata (” inquieta passeggiando dinanzi alla casa” ) che attende le altre donne chiamate a raccolta e alle quali vuole comunicare l’estrema decisione:
” (…) bisogna astenersi dal bischero (…) .

Di fronte a tale richiesta, però, le donne cercano pretesti. Non si sentono così coraggiose da potersi astenere sessualmente.
Ecco che Lisistrata è perno e caposaldo dell’azione: al compito di ricercare lo strumento con cui ricattare gli uomini e far cessare la guerra si aggiunge quello di convincere le donne che il sacrificio proposto è importante.
Fondamentale è questo spirito di sorellanza perché se alle donne non è permesso entrare nel campo delle decisioni qui con forza pretendono questo diritto: non più solo ascoltare ed obbedire a testa bassa con quel velo sul capo a segnare la condizione di inferiorità imposta ma con la forza dell’unione a dar voce alle proprie opinioni.
Rosso è il sangue versato in guerra.
Rosso è il colore del desiderio carnale che si esprime liberamente.
Sono ancora lontani i tempi delle dottrine artefatte che assoggettano e addomesticano la natura reale dei corpi come fossero bestioline selvatiche.
Lontano è lo spauracchio del peccato cristiano che frena, reprime, inibisce sotto la sferza di costumi e morali che terrorizzano con la visione delle fiamme infernali.
Qui in scena ci sono corpi di uomini e di donne liberi di dichiarare senza vergogna o timore la voglia di fare sesso.
E molto tempo dopo si dirà: «fate l’amore non fate la guerra»…
Profile Image for Ana.
805 reviews596 followers
February 15, 2017
Why do we live under the impression that the Greeks were such serious philosophers, when one of their favorite past-time was listening to dick jokes? I loved this, I do enjoy the occasional dick joke. One has to read this and play it in one's mind at the same time...
Profile Image for P.E..
761 reviews525 followers
November 19, 2019
To stop the Peloponnesian War, the namesake heroin Lysistrata talks all the warrior's wives into going on a sex strike. This certainly is one of the earliest examples (to remain) of a play staging such an event. However, this is not the only comedy written by Aristophanes on the many issues raised by the cohabitation of men and women, far from it!
Profile Image for Brad.
Author 2 books1,687 followers
July 16, 2019
In the era of #MeToo, there may not be a more important piece of drama than Lysistrata. In the era of forever wars there is probably not a a more important piece of drama than Lysistrata. In the era of environmental collapse there is no more important piece of drama than Lysistrata.

The fact that Aristophenes -- 2400 years ago -- was talking about our shit now should make us drop our heads in shame. But it won't.
Profile Image for Katya.
233 reviews1 follower
June 27, 2022


(...) Desde que a guerra começou até agora, respeitámos as vossas decisões, temos suportado tudo, porque não nos era permitido fazer outra coisa. Mas o que até aqui fizestes deixa-nos insatisfeitas. Temos apreciado os vossos actos e, muitas vezes, demos conta de que, em assuntos graves, tomáveis soluções levianas. Nessas alturas, sorrindo, perguntávamos: «Que resolvestes hoje na assembleia? Foi tomada alguma decisão quanto à paz?» Ao que os nossos maridos respondiam: «Não é nada convosco, calai a boca!» E nós calavamo-nos.


Tinha toda a razão, o teu marido, por Zeus!


Tinha razão, miserável? Mesmo quando as vossas decisões eram tolas, não nos era consentido exprimir o nosso ponto de vista. Até ao dia em que se ouviu dizer abertamente nas ruas: «Não há já na cidade um único homem.» Nesse dia resolvemos convocar as mulheres de toda a Grécia. Que mais havia a esperar? Chegou o momento de serdes vós a ouvir os nossos conselhos e a calar, como nós nos calamos. Só então poderemos remediar as coisas.


Remediar o quê? Esse discurso é perfeitamente intolerável!


Cala a boca, cala a boca!


Mandas-me calar, maldita! Mandas-me calar, com esse véu a cobrir-te a cabeça? Antes a morte!


Se o véu é empecilho, podes tirar-mo, pô-lo na tua cabeça e calares a boca. Pega também nesta cestinha, arregaça-te, começa a fiar a lã e a comer favas. A guerra agora é assunto das mulheres.

Lisístrata, enquanto comédia, sai fora dos moldes a que me acostumei e que mais aprecio dentro da literatura clássica.
Ainda assim, não é possível passar ao lado desta peça já que nos chega de uma época excelsa da cultura grega e espelha muito bem aquilo que o século V foi no berço da cultura europeia.

Encenada durante as celebrações das Grandes Dionísias, onde cortejos de mascarados portadores de grandes falos faziam um dos momentos altos da festa, Lisístrata não podia enquadrar-se melhor nas festividades. Nela também desfilam homens e mulheres, novos e velhos, despidos, desmesurada e incapacitantemente excitados.
Em meia dúzia de palavras o cenário: Atenas; Guerra do Peloponeso; questionamento dos valores democráticos.
Em outra meia dúzia, a caracterização da comédia: personagens populares; encenação caricatural.
Sinopse: perante a saída dos homens de Atenas, destacados para a guerra, Lisístrata (semanticamente: "aquela que põe fim à guerra") decide reunir todas as mulheres da Grécia para conseguir a paz. Como? Boicotando o sexo (numa primeira leitura leiga), mas na realidade, boicotando as finanças da cidade - já que quando as mulheres se barricam na Acrópole, interditado o acesso ao Templo, o que estão a fazer é essencialmente barricar-se no cofre de Atenas (mas esta leitura não é tão divertida).

Também não é muito divertido ler certos epítetos dirigidos às mulheres, e às partes - não podemos esquecer que as peças eram escritas por e para homens, apenas (pelo menos não existem evidências de contrário); a linguagem de Aristófanes é obscena, satírica e apenas com uma boa dose de esforço lhe retiramos qualquer mensagem a favor do género feminino (outro erro frequente de leituras contemporâneas).
Ainda assim, não deixa de ser um documento que vale a pena ler. Reflete questões pertinentes: é anti-bélico; posiciona-se contra o poder instalado e tem um fator atualissímo de misoginia que se revela, ironicamente, nas falas mais inocentes da peça.


Se algum de nós der mostras de fraquejar na presença destas mulheres, elas não hesitarão. Começarão a construir barcos, irão para o mar e dar-nos-ão luta, como fez Artemísia.

E sim, tem momentos muito divertidos (auxiliados pelo genial Aubrey Beardsley) que nem a mim passam ao lado.
Profile Image for Yann.
1,407 reviews334 followers
May 3, 2016

Lysistrata est l'une des plus célèbres pièces d'Aristophane. A l'époque où il l'écrivit, la cité Athénienne est dans une situation critique, le désastre de l'invasion de la Sicile ayant précipité la défection de nombres d'alliés, et enhardi les Spartiates à s'approcher toujours plus de l'Attique. Toujours partisan de la paix et fustigeant les va-t-en guerre, Aristophane imagine un scénario rocambolesque digne de l'ambiance Dionysiaque des fêtes pendant lesquelles la pièce était jouée: Lysistrata (en grec, celle qui délie l'armée) fomente une cabale avec les femmes de Grèce: se retrancher dans l'Acropole, et faire la grève du sexe jusqu'à ce que les hommes acceptent enfin de déposer les armes. Outre les extravagances obscènes et comiques qu'ouvrent un tel scénario, Aristophane en profite pour glisser quelques messages politiques, appelant les hommes de bonne volonté à mettre leurs différents de côté, et à s'unir contre les méchants qui les séduisent au service de leurs ambitions. Une pièce très amusante, servie par la grande inventivité d'Aristophane pour forger de nouveaux mots. Cette édition est bilingue, fournie avec un bon appareil critique, une introduction et un lexique.

Illustrations de Aubrey Beardsley:
Profile Image for Werner.
Author 3 books578 followers
December 29, 2012
After listing this on my "read" shelf for years, I discovered last month that the "translation" I read as a teen was actually a very free adaptation, which only loosely resembles what Aristophanes actually wrote. Naturally, I wanted to correct that mistake; and since I was looking for a short read right now, and had promised a Goodreads friend that I'd soon review the actual play, I worked it in over the past couple of days. Note: the above Dover edition is not actually the one I read; I read the translation by Charles T. Murphy, in the collection An Anthology of Greek Drama.

As the short description above suggests, this play was written and presented against the background of the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta (and their respective allies, which included pretty much the whole Greek world), which at the time had dragged on for 20 years. (It would drag on for seven more.) Though he was a patriotic Athenian, Aristophanes had no liking for the war or any of the suffering and evils that it brought in its train; he'd written other plays with the message "End it now!" This is the best known of his anti-war productions, in which he imagines the women of Greece "fighting" for peace with a very elemental, and quintessentially feminine, weapon: sexual blackmail.

In assessing the play itself, it should be noted immediately that it's not as salacious as the Goodreads descriptions of some editions imply. There's no explicit sex or outright obscenity; and though the women's vow includes non-marital as well as marital sex, the former is hardly mentioned; it's taken for granted that the usual setting for sex is in marriage. It's also taken for granted that, in that context, it's a natural and normal function that both genders like, a lot. (At the time this was written, while Pythagoras' physical world-disparaging, anti-sex philosophy was on the landscape, it hadn't made nearly the intellectual impact on the literate classes that it would from the time of Plato on; voluntary celibacy wasn't a common phenomenon, and virtually all adults married early by our standards.) That's not, in itself, an unwholesome fact to recognize. That said, the treatment here does include a certain amount of earthy humor, and some that descends from earthy to crude. (My impression was that some of this was pandering to the tastes of the coarser and less mature elements of the audience; the erection references, for instance, struck me as being on the intellectual level of the flatulence references that my grandsons imagine to be funny --but one's in kindergarten and one's in preschool. :-( Some of the dialog in this vein also came across as forced and unrealistic. (Of course, not all the double entendres are readily apparent to modern readers.) Aristophanes also exaggerates, to make his point, the effect that sexual deprivation would have on both genders; even for healthy adults who are used to regular marital relations (and these were actually greatly interrupted anyway by the mens' military service, a contradiction the author mentions but glosses over!), I don't think five days would suffice to reduce the males to the straits it does here. (Five months, or five weeks, maybe. :-) ) For me as a modern reader, another difficulty was that I couldn't follow all of the topical, cultural, and mythological references that the original audience would have understood immediately. (This edition doesn't have notes.) That's not a fair criticism of Aristophanes' work, but it did effect my own personal enjoyment, and hence my rating. (I also couldn't follow the thought of a couple of the choral speeches, which I found confusing.)

But though all the factors above cost the play a couple of stars, I liked it (my rating would actually have been 3 1/2 stars if I could give half stars, though I didn't round up). The anti-war message, and the reminders to both sides that they have reason to feel gratitude, not enmity, to the other, comes through loud and clear, and I give Aristophanes a lot of kudos for that. (He's a testament to the long and honorable heritage of anti-war conservatism!) Moreover, the treatment of women is outstanding, especially in the context of a very sexist culture that disparaged them! Lysistrata is depicted as a strong, wise born leader; male canards about women are punctured and lampooned, and the men get the worst of the physical confrontations (which, in performance, would have had a gloriously slapstick flavor). In Greek theater parlance, a "comedy" is any play that's not tragic; but this does have plenty of actual humor, both verbal and situational.

IMO, the modern adaptation I read as a teen improved the work in some respects. Alas, I can't recall the exact bibliographic information!
Profile Image for ♡︎Bee♡︎.
440 reviews2 followers
February 7, 2018
Me after reading this play and being in love with every aspect of it and how it portrays women assuming the "supposed" roles of men without even lifting a finger, beautifully :
I have to say I was expecting a completely boring play that seemed to go on and on but boy oh boy was I in for a treat! This play was funny and lewd as hell and completely timeless. It is a really quick read and you will not waste your time if you decide to read it. On my damn word.
Profile Image for Laura .
363 reviews134 followers
December 23, 2018
If you want to call yourself a feminist - then read this. Women sorting the men out, more than 2400 years ago.

Shame on you present day Greeks! Although, this is one of those Ancients that they trot out on a regular basis here in Cyprus - it's a comedy.
December 16, 2019
As you can see, there are no highlighted stars for this review. The reason for this is not because I loathed the play, but simply because I have read three different translations of Lysistrata, each unique in translation. If you read what appears to be a bad translation of the play, then that is not the fault of Aristophanes, but of the translator(s). With that being said, instead of one rating to finalize it, I am posting three ratings and reviews, one for each translation I have read; from the best to the worst. I will link the source of the play for each one.

Before I do, I'll just say really quickly what I think of the play itself: When translated correctly, it's really, really funny and engaging. I'll elaborate more on it when I talk about the first translation.

With that being said, let's get Aristophane'd (or UN-Aristophane'd for one translation)!

Aristophanes: The Complete Plays
Translated by Paul Roche
Published by New American Library
Source: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B001NQGN56/...


From what I've heard on a taped lecture from a Brown University professor who specialized in Classic Greek lit and language, this book (to what he perceived) contains the closest translation we can (or just have) gotten to Aristophanes' original play. When translating a work, you're not only translating words, but also figuring out what they could have meant back then and how they were delivered. FOR EXAMPLE: If somehow over thousands of years the English language disappeared and people found remains of an American play, they might translate the word "rain" wrong, as we also have words pronounced is similar ways, such as reign and rein. All three of these words sound the same but have different meanings.

From what I've heard, Roche translated all of Aristophanes works (including Lysistrata) in a very articulate way. Reading the play from this book myself, I think I can agree with this professor.

This is probably the best and most faithful adaptation of Lysistrata that exists right now...but what does that also mean? It also means it most likely the crudest one that exists at this point, but that's what also makes it better; for the original play written in Ancient Greek was very crude and did not shy away from sexual matters and foul language. This translation has a lot of sexual banter, some f-bombs, sexual slang, etc. It's also a really, really well written play that has, when of course translated well like this version, wonderful chemistry and at times stream-of-conscious like dialogue. I can credit this translation as well for it's use of footnotes when something obscure is referenced. Very useful, indeed!

I found this version to have the best take on Lysistrata, herself. I loved how strong-willed and confident she was instead of being more lenient and...well, I'll get to that translation in a little bit.

I've read this version three times and it never gets old. In fact, I think it gets a bit better with every viewing (there is some word play and references you don't always catch the first time). They got the names of the characters right and they never reference anything outside of that time period (you'll see what I fully mean by this , later).

Overall? This version is an exquisite example of a superb translation that is close to the original work of Aristophanes. Bravo, Paul Roche! You deserve an M&M cookie.

Lysistrata (Hackett Classics)
Translated by Sarah Ruden
Published by Hackett Publishing Co.
Source: http://www.fishpond.com/Books/Lysistr...


I just want to let you know people, these are simply my opinions with SOME factual basis. I know some people absolutely love this translation of the play; and to it's credit, the translator of course does have some backup. She has a PhD in Classics and has generated some very positive reviews about her works. This is simply my opinion of the translation. No hate comments needed.

I just gotta ask though...who drew the cover for this book? I don't want to sound mean, but it's just repugnant to look at. It creeps me out for some reason. I just wanted to get that out of the way...and I'm not rating the books based off that.

As I was going to say, I really don't find this translation of Lysistrata that bad at all. In many ways it's quite like Roche's translation and keeps the names of the characters similar and their motives the same. So then why the lower rating?

I think I rated this one lower because of how I noticed Sarah Ruden tried to make the dialogue much shorter than it had been. In some parts, instead of long, Shakespearean-like prose, verse, and rhythm, some of those parts have been trimmed down to a mere couple sentences. Maybe Ruden assumed that a lot of the poetry Aristophanes used in this play was pointless to the plot. If this is the case, then I wholeheartedly disagree. If it isn't, I still don't know why a lot of it is trimmed down. This would be okay for a beginner but if you're studying for a class and assigned the play, then I'm not sure this would be the right translation for you.

I'm going to be honest, I thought it was boring for what it was trying to adapt. Lysistrata is supposed to be dramatic, crass, hilarious, and in many ways, dogmatic. This translation though is...satisfactory. Yes it is still engaging, but it lacks the substance that Roche's translation had. Again, maybe Ruden thought the play should be taken on a more serious note instead of a comedic one. It depends on the perception of the translator and the reader. In my opinion, Lysistrata is comedy while hilarious and just plain weird at times, it's also preaching the fact that women in Greece are mistreated, with the play itself using irony and clever word play to preach to it's audience. In many ways you could even consider Lysistrata a feminist play (even though feminism wasn't a concept then--at least, that we know of).

Overall, this adaption is alright. I read through it pretty quickly and still have it on my bookshelf. Maybe I'll re-read it again, soon and see if I missed anything.

Lysistrata (Focus Classics Library)
Translated by Jeffrey Henderson
Published by Focus
Source: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00PRHFW0Y/...



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I've been foreshadowing this translation too much in this review.

This translation is really bizarre. I mean it. It's...very, very strange in a horrible way. I'd really love to sit down and have a serious talk with the translator.

I really hate to start using GIF's in a serious review, but in this scenario, I just need them here to express how I felt about this translation.

Oh boy, where do I begin?

Okay, I'll start off by saying the names are all correct. There. Done with the pro.

Now its the cons.

First off, there are references to things hundreds if not thousands of years after the year this play was written and during the years it took place (around 431-404 BCE). In the intro of this edition, the translator speaks about modernizing parts of it. Alright, that actually sounds really interesting! A version of Lysistrata taking place in the 20th or 21st century? Why not?

That's when this translation got...weird.

Calonice, one of the women who finally volunteers to join the sex strike, speaks about beforehand she would have rather burned her best pair of designer jeans. Then Lysistrata before this references women wearing high heels. Alright. It's supposed to be a modern adaptation, right? Well, I thought so...until they all reference that they're husbands are fighting in Sparta and want them back in Athens.

So...what the hell is this supposed to be? Does this take place in 20th-century America or in the 5th century BCE during the Peloponnesian war?? They didn't have Old Navy back then and high heels were not even invented until the 14th century or later in Naples. Why are these things being talked about if it takes place in the 5th century! I'm assuming it's the 5th century during the war, as in the beginning of the play they show a map of where the war was occurring in 421 BCE. I think my brain just fizzled a little bit.

There's even a part where a Spartan soldier references Freud.

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As for just the translation if you ignore all this modern BS in a 5th century society? I'll tell you what it is. Repetitive and dull without a substance. That sounds very harsh, but it's my opinion and I'm sticking to it. Also the dialogue seemed very clunky in this version. There were parts I'd have to re-read five times an exchange of sentences between characters because I'd have no idea what the heck they were even talking about or why they were taking about it!

I somehow ended up finishing this, but it took much longer than it did the other two. This probably isn't the worst translation of Lysistrata out there but it's gotta be down there. At least the Spartan's don't have annoying Scottish accents like Jack Lindsay's translation or Parker's translation where they sound like hillbillies (because that makes a lot of sense, right)!? You just have to learn to identify a good translation and a bad one. I hope this review is helpful for some. Again, it is my opinion, but I do stand by these opinions strongly.

Also no, I am not reviewing Parker's and Lindsay's translations.
Profile Image for David Sarkies.
1,786 reviews307 followers
October 22, 2015
Staging a sex strike
12 January 2013

Ignoring the crudeness of the play (and remember that Shakespeare himself was quite crude) and the naked men running around with giant erect peni (is that the plural of penis?) what this play seems to be about is the empowerment of women (which is probably why the feminists love it so much). Mind you the only woman in this play that seems to have the willpower to see it through to the end is Lysistrata herself, but then that is probably why she is the leader. In a way it says something about a characteristic of leadership, and that is to remain firm on your convictions because you are the one that people look up to, and you are the one who holds everything together.

The play was first produced in 411 bc, not necessarily Athen's darkest day (since the final defeat to the Spartans was still a few years away) but it was one of them. Basically the Athenians had sent their entire navy off on a little adventure to capture Sicily, and in doing so pretty much lost all of her ships and a bulk of her fighting men. Now Athens was basically defenceless, the Spartans were on her doorstep, and most of her allies had deserted her. It was not a question of victory at any cost any more, but it was a question of trying to bring the war to an end so that Athens would suffer an honourable defeat (not that she had been honourable to any of the cities that she had sacked). Mind you, just like the Athenians not pressing her advantage when she was on top, Sparta did not press the advantage here either.

The play takes the view that the women are as essential to the functioning of the city as are the men, and in fact Lysistrata pretty much says that it is the women who build the city and the men who then go about destroying it. The reference here is to the fact that the women give birth to the warriors and the men then pretty much send them out to get killed. In another sense there is also a reference to how the workers work hard to produce the money for the city and the politicians then go and waste it. I guess this is a reference to the failed Sicilian expedition where most of Athen's fighting power was wiped out on a quest in which the success was dubious at best.

This is not a play where the women hold the men hostage (by going on a sex strike) until the surrender, this is not what was wanted. As mentioned above it was not a quick end to the war that was desired, that could have been arranged by waving the white flag, but an honourable defeat. This is why Lysistrata brings the Spartan and Theban women into the plan as well, because the idea was to not just starve the Athenian men of sex, but all of the men on both sides of the conflict, in the hope that this would bring them to the negotiating table.

There are a few interesting things that come out of this play, and one of them is the idea that the woman is obsessed with sex. There are a number of references in this play that suggest that this is the case, but then the fact that we have men running around with erect peni also indicates that men are just as obsessed with sex as are the women. However the other odd thing is the idea that a sex strike with the Athenians would work. I was under the impression that to the Athenians (in particular) that sex with women was simply to reproduce where as pleasurable sex was with another man. I guess this is why this play, to the Athenians, would have been so funny, because in reality such a sex strike, at least to the Athenians, would not have worked.
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