Friday, September 11, 2009


Title: Lysistrata
Author: Aristophanes, Translation by Douglass Parker
Genre: Drama
Price: $5.99 (paperback)
ISBN: 0451624955

Lysistrata is a play coming to us from Ancient Greece, written by Aristophanes, an Athenian playwright, known for his comedy. The play surrounds a bold and strong Athenian woman, Lysistrata who is tired of the men from Athens and its neighbors constantly being away at battle. In hopes of getting the men to stop fighting and stay home, she devises a genius plan--women need to stop putting out.

This plot is golden. The concept itself is fantastic, especially considering it was written well, well, well before the rights of women and sexual revolution and married women didn't seem to hold any real power when the play first originated. The risque nature of the play also allows for some witty banter and clever innuendo that one can truly appreciate. It also comes in handy during a time when war is close to the front of our mind (though not so much now with the economy in such a state).

The cast of characters are interesting, if slightly one-sided, though that could have something to do with the play's length (it's very short and can easily be read in one sitting or two). You have Lysistrata, who is very bold and bright, but her goal seems to be just as much about showing how stupid men are as it is to stop the fighting. Then there is her friend and second-in-command of sorts, Kleonike, who is the sex-pot, fashionista of the bunch (kind of like a Samantha from "Sex in the City"). The last most notable character is Lampito, a hardcore fighting Spartan woman, who, while dedicated to the idea, isn't the brightest woman of the bunch.

My one major complaint about the play has very little to do with the play itself and more to do with the translation. My copy was translated by Douglass Parker. One of his goals stated in the introduction was to render a "modern" translation of Aristophanes Greek. My copy was first published in 1964, making the "modern" translation sounding completely ridiculous. When you go hunt down a copy of the play, I suggest finding a current modern translation, or a classical translation.

Comparable Reads: I am sadly under read in the drama department, so my catalogue of comparable reads comes mainly from Shakespeare. The best comparison I can come up with is A Midsummer's Night Dream. The cheekiness of this play is also present in Lysistrata.

Who is this book for?: Girls! Guys would enjoy it, too, I think, but there is nothing better than reading a book or play were girls get one over on the guys. Get it for your girlfriends, add it to your book club list, and have fun with it. I also think it's a fun first introduction to classic drama, because it's a good example of the rules that classic drama has to adhere to (place, time, and space) as well as just being fun. I first read it my senior year of high school in an English class, which is probably the best time to use it in high school because they've all sort of reached that age where they can still giggle at the idea of sex and still have a coherent discussion about the book's true subject. Link

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