Lysistrata was the third and final of the peace plays written by the great Greek comic playwright Aristophanes (c. 445 – c. 386 BCE). Shown in 411 BCE at the Lenaea festival in Athens, it was written during the final years of the war between Athens and Sparta. The play is essentially a dream about peace. Many Greeks believed the war was bringing nothing but ruin to Greece, making it susceptible to Persian attack. So, in Aristophanes’ play, the wives and mothers of the warring cities, led by the Athenian Lysistrata, came together with an ingenious solution. In order to force peace, the women decided to go on strike. This was not a typical work stoppage. Instead, there was to be no romantic relations of any kind with their husbands. Further, by occupying the Acropolis, home of the Athenian treasury, the women controlled access to the money necessary to finance the war. Together with the withholding of sex, both sides would soon be begging for peace.
As the author of at least forty plays, only eleven of which have survived, Aristophanes is considered by many to be the greatest poet of Greek comedy. Unfortunately, his works are the only examples to remain intact. By the time Aristophanes began to write, Greek theatre was in serious decline. However, much of the presentation of drama remained the same. There was the usual chorus of 24 as well as three actors who wore grotesque masks and costumes.