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.
THE Frogs is a comedy play by Aristophanes (c 445 – c 385 BCE), the most famous of the comic playwrights of ancient Greece. Named after the creatures who composed the play’s chorus, it won first prize at the dramatic festival at Lenaea in 405 BCE and, proving to be successful, it would later be performed at the Dionysia festival in Athens.
The play represented the last of the playwright’s works written during the turbulent era of the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta. Although he endured prosecution for his continued attacks on the politician Cleon, The Frogs brought Aristophanes public honors for its promotion of Athenian unity. The play tells the story of Dionysos, the patron deity of theater, who complains about the sad state of Athenian drama. In an attempt to save tragedy from a generation of poor writers, Dionysos, disguised as the god Hercules, and his slave Xanthias, descend into Hades to bring Euripides back from the dead – the tragedian had died the previous year. However, before Dionysos can leave Hades and return to Athens, he is persuaded to serve as a judge at Hades’ court over a contest between Euripides and Aeschylus as to who was the greatest Athenian tragic poet.
Mugshot of Ivan Burylov, a beekeeper arrested and sentenced to forced labor in a gulag for writing the word “Comedy” his ballot during a Soviet Communist Party office election in 1949.