Aristophanes' Lysistrata: A New Version

Aristophanes' Lysistrata: A New Version

Aristophanes' Lysistrata: A New Version

Aristophanes' Lysistrata: A New Version

Excerpt

The LYSISTRATA of Aristophanes is the one masterpiece of Greek comedy which seems to have everlasting life. It is the single comedy by which a modern audience can judge the reputation of this first, and possibly greatest, of the comic writers. In the last twenty years it has been produced not like his other plays, as a pious exercise in archæology, but as a propagandist work for both pacificism and the rights of women, as an operetta, and as a typical sexual comedy quite in the French manner.

The literary references and the local implications of the other plays of Aristophanes are, fortunately, lacking here. LYSISTRATA deals with men and women and war. About war, what Aristophanes has to say is extremely simple and he said it in three plays, written at intervals in the twenty-year war which began the decline of Athens and the ruin of Greece. With a hardihood matched only by the extreme radicals during the European war, but with much more humor, he set before the Athenians, at the very moment when their armies were engaged in battle, a friendly conference between the Athenians and their enemies. He made it clear that in Greece, at least, any war was a civil war. (In one of the other war plays he even has a poor peasant making a separate pact of peace -- an idea which seems to have occurred ineffectually to millions of private soldiers a few years ago.) By implication --

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