Author: Aristophanes (translation by A.H. Sommerstein).
Genre: Fiction, literature, classical lit, humour, plays, historical fiction, war lit.
Country: Ancient Greece.
Language: Ancient Greek.
Publication Date: 411BC.
Summary: A comic account of one woman's extraordinary mission to end the Peloponnesian War. Lysistrata persuades the women of Greece to withhold sexual privileges from their husbands and lovers as a means of forcing the men to negotiate peace — a strategy, however, that inflames the battle between the sexes. An early exposé of sexual relations in a male-dominated society.
My rating: 9/10.
♥ LYSISTRATA: Well, consider how we deal with a tangled stein of wool. We take it like this, and with the help of our spindles we pull it gently, now in this direction, now in that, and it all unravels. That’s how we’ll unravel this war, if you’ll let us, unpicking it by sending diplomatic missions, now in this direction, now in that.
MAGISTRATE: How stupid can you get, thinking you can solve serious problems with wool and skeins and spindles?
LYSISTRATA: Actually, if you had any sense, you’d run the whole City entirely on the model of the way we deal with wool.
MAGISTRATE: How do you make that out?
LYSISTRATA: Imagine the citizen body is a raw fleece. You start by putting it in a bath and washing out the dung; then lay it on a bed, beat out the villains with a stick and pick out the burrs. Then you have to deal with the cliques, who knot themselves together to get chosen for public office; you must card those out and pick off their heads. Then you card all the wool into the work-basket of Civic Goodwill - including everyone, immigrants, friendly foreigners - yes, and even those who are in debt to the Treasury! Not only that. There are many other states which are colonies of Athens. At the moment these are lying around all over the place, like little flocks of wool. You should pick them up, bring them here, and put them all together in one great ball of wool - and from that you can weave the People a nice warm cloak to wear.
MAGISTRATE: Burrs - balls of wall - all this nonsense! What right have you women to talk like this? What have you ever done for the war effort?
LYSISTRATA: Done, curse you? We’ve contributed to it twice over and more. For one thing, we’ve given you sons, and then had to send them off to fight.
♥ WOMEN: I shall give good advice to the City:
For my nurture, I owe her no less.
I became, at the age of just seven,
An Acropolis child priestess;
Then after I’d served as a Grinder,
To Brauron, aged ten, I went down
As a Bear in the rites of the Foundress,
And discarded my saffron-dyed gown;
And finally I was selected
The ritual basket to bear,
With a string of dried figs for a necklace
And a face most surprisingly fair.
STRATYLLIS: See why I think I owe you good advice?
And please don’t look on me with prejudice:
My gender has no bearing on the question
Whether I’m offering you a good suggestion.
I’m a full member of your civic club:
I give you men, that’s how I pay my sub.
And what do you lot pay? Where’s all the gold
Your fathers took from Persian foes of old?
You’ve squandered it, and live instead on tax -
In paying which you’re something worse than lax.
In fact, all thanks to you, our situation
Is that we’re on the brink of liquidation!
What can you answer? Vex me any more,
And this raw-leather boot will sock your jaw!