Hello, Dr. Anita Johnston here.
I am at the Acropolis in Athens, Greece where the columns of statues of six women remind me of the story of Lysistrata. For thousands of years there have been many performances at this theater of Dionysis. And Lysistrata would have been one of them.
Imagine you are an Athenian woman in 403BC and you are about to watch a comedy here by the famous playwright, Aristophenes called Lysistrata.
The story is about a woman named Lysistrada who took it upon herself to come up with a creative plan to end the 25 year long war which had pitted the Pelopennesian cities of Greece against each other.
Her plan? To convince the women of Spartus, of Thebes, and the other cities to withhold sex from the men until they ended their fighting. While resistant initially, they eventually agreed – and while they were offering a bowl of wine to the Goddess of Reconcilliation they heard the sounds of the older women who had joined them in this plan who were capturing the Acropolis.
The Acropolis was the fortress that housed the financial treasury of Athens. With this take-over – there would be no funds available to continue the war. There is a scene where the decrepit, misogynistic old men start fires and try to smoke out the old women – but they just laugh and pour water on their fires – eventually defeating them and dousing them with icy water.
Through-out the play there were 2 choruses – the voices of the older men and the older women that sang back and forth, and there were funny sexual antics on stage between the men and the women – where the women would refuse any sexual activity no matter how hard the men tried to seduce them.
Lysistrada has a dialogue with the head Commissioner of Public Safety where he complains that the women have had unnecessary freedoms and asks her why she is doing this. She says the women are sick of all the political incompetence and the money at the root of all of the fighting.
Eventually, the sexually frustrated men from the different states agree to meet at the Acropolis to discuss a peace treaty. Lysistrata presents the Goddess of Reconciliation in the form of a naked young woman and reminds them of times they helped each other in need. The peace treaty is signed by both sides, the women return to their men, and the play ends with Lysistrata cautioning “Let’s not make this mistake again” and a happy song is sung by both the men and women’s chorus in unison.
It doesn’t take much to imagine what it would have been like to be an Athenian woman watching this play 2,000 years ago.
There’s something to be said of the power of women in solidarity. Women that stay connected to their true values. To the essence of the feminine principle.
From the Light of the Moon Café from Athens, Greece, see you next time.