Lysistrata by Aristophanes: Summary

Lysistrata, a strong and clever Athenian woman with a great sense of individual obligation for the nation, has made a secret plan of meeting among all of the women of Greece to discuss on the topic how to end the Peloponnesian War. She has called the women of Sparta, Thebes, and other cities in the meeting.

Aristophanes (448BC-388BC)

Lysistrata procedures with a plan to ask all the women to have sex strike with their husbands till a peace treaty has been signed by the warriors from both sides.

The women are suspicious of the plan and reluctant at first, but with Lysistrata’s power of convincing the women, the agreement is finalized with oath around a wine bowl, and the women agree to avoid all sexual pleasures. Her another plan is with the older women of Athens, who are supposed to seize the Akropolis on the same day. Akropolis holds the treasury of the state without which the warriors cannot continue the war any further due lack of fund.

There are two groups of choruses: the chorus of old men and the chorus of old women in Lysistrata. The chorus of men is seen on the stage with woods and fire to smoke the women out the Akropolis. They are in great rage, but the chorus of women appears with jugs of water on the stage so as to put out the fire of men. The chorus of men is defeated by the chorus of women and the men get a good soak from the jugs of water.

The magistrate comes to the Akropolis asking for the funds for the naval ships in the war. The Commissioner is greatly shocked to see the women at the Akropolis and orders the police to arrest Lysistrata and her supporting women. In that humorous conflict the policemen are scared off. The Commissioner complaints the men of Athens that they have been too flexible and have allowed unnecessary freedom to the women of the city.

The Commissioner and Lysistrata are left behind to argue about the Peloponnesian War. Lysistrata argues that war is a big concern of women because women have sacrificed greatly for it, women have given their husbands and their sons for the sake of war. Lysistrata further adds that it has become difficult for a woman to find a husband. The women mockingly dress the Commissioner as a woman first and later as a corpse.

After some considerable time, the sex-strike of Greek women begins to take effect on the men. Lysistrata finds Kinesias, the husband of Myrrhine, coming to the Akropolis to see his wife. Kinesias has a full erection and is madly desperate for his wife. But, Myrrhine skillfully rejects his sex proposal, saying they can enjoy sex when peace exists between Athens and Sparta. It is so amusing that Myrrhine hints that she could make love to Kinesias and makes him more desperately willing for sex but later leaves him in great pain. He now can only think about the peace treaty between the two states.

One Spartan messenger arrives in the Akropolis who is also suffering from a hard erection. The messenger describes about the helpless situation of the Spartan warriors caused due to sex strike and appeals for the peace treaty. When men from both states meet at the Akropolis for the discussion of the peace treaty, all men have full erections. Lysistrata addresses them on the need of the reconciliation between the states. She reminds them all about their previous role of helping each other at the time of need. Then the Spartan and the Athenian leaders come to the point to implement land rights which will eventually end the war. The peace treaty is signed by both sides and Lysistrata gives the women back to their men. The play ends with happy song sung by both men and women's choruses.

Aristophanes Study Center

Introduction of Lysistrata

Themes of Lysistrata

Aristophanes' Satire in Lysistrata

Biography of Aristophanes