In what ways is Lysistrata a woman behaving badly in her own cultural context? Women can be seen as behaving badly thought the entire of history, yet the cultural context to which they belong defines what is bad and what is not. Context has been seen to effect values and attitudes to a great extent, therefore determining how a text should be viewed. Lysistrata by Aristophanes was written in ancient Greek times, so Lysistrata must be viewed as a woman behaving badly in regard to the values and attitudes of her time. In the following paragraphs Lysistrata as a woman behaving badly in the cultural context of ancient Greece, will be discussed. In the opening of the play, Lysistrata calls a meeting with all the women, and women representatives from Athens and Sparta to discuss what they should do about the war, "I've called a meeting to discuss a very major matter... ." as stated by Lysistrata when she is waiting for the other women to arrive.
This is her behaving badly in ancient Greek times as women weren't supposed to call meeting of any form, this was seen as a male privilege because women were not viewed at intelligent enough. The men, however, do not respond to Lysistrata calling a meeting, as they do not know of the uniting of the women until they have taken the Acropolis. The meeting is called to discuss Lysistrata's idea on how they can stop the men from waging war her idea is renouncing sex. "Very well then.
We must renounce - sex... ." Lysistrata telling the women for the first time what they need to do and Murrhine taking the vow on behalf of all the women, "But I will never willingly yield myself to him." - talking about their husbands. This is Lysistrata acting badly as in ancient Greek times, as sex was expected from women by men, women had not charge over their bodies and sex was not something they had the power to give or deny at will. The men react to this in such a way that suggests they can't live without sex and are settle the whole war over the assurance from Lysistrata that their wives will be returned to them once they do so, "Allies, ma " am? Look at the state we " re in! We know what the allies will want: the same as we do - a fuck! !" Lysistrata's next move is to capture the Acropolis with the help of the other women. "[All the women retire into the Acropolis, and the doors are closed. ]" As directed by a stage cue.
This is bad behaviour on her behalf as the Acropolis was the centre of politics and used to keep money in, and women were not allowed to associate themselves with such male dominated domains, women weren't seen as intelligent enough. Lysistrata seizing the Acropolis with the other women can seen as symbolic for them interfering in 'men's business' and challenging the way men ran things. The men's response to this is one of shock, "They " ve seized our own Acropolis, With bars they " ve shut the gate!" In response to the women capturing the Acropolis, the men decide to lay siege on the building and have plans to burn it down as a last resort. Yet in return the old women come and keep the men at bay, a Magistrate also comes and Lysistrata comes out to talk to him, their conversation turns nasty and the Magistrate sets a policeman onto Lysistrata to "Take her and tie her hands behind her back." Lysistrata then behaves badly by threatening the police officer, "By Artemis, if he so much as touches me, I'll teach him a lesson, servant of the state though he is!" This is bad behaviour for a woman in ancient Greek times as is was expected by the men that women treat them with respect, a women threatening a man and the man hesitating from fear was unheard of. "[The POLICEMAN hesitates]" As directed in the Stage directions. After the threat with the police officer, the Magistrate then brings out his whole police force to face the women, Lysistrata then makes another war like threat in regard to how many fighting women she has in the Acropolis waiting to come out and fight, "If you do, by the Holy Twain, you " ll find we " ve got four companies of fully armed fighting women inside there!" This is Lysistrata behaving badly in her context because she is taking on the role of a man and involving herself in war like behaviours.
War was a male dominated sphere in Ancient Greece, and for Lysistrata to take up such a position was a crime against nature, it was unheard of. The men's response to her was trying to talk her out of such actions and bluntly putting the point how they saw it, "Let war be the care of the menfolk!" The magistrate was soon physically defeated by Lysistrata's army, and resorted to verbally questioning and bantering with her. He manages to get her to reveal her plan of taking charge of the cities money, "Do? Why, we " ll take charge of it." Though the answer seems normal, to the met it was outrageous. In the context women were not seen a intelligent enough to take care of finances so having the thought of Lysistrata attempting to run the city was enough to fire up a reaction in the men proving how outrageous and unnatural what she was doing was, "You in charge of state money?" Lysistrata also behaved badly again after that, by taking her arguments with the Magistrate one step further. She goes from telling him what they were doing to telling him what men should be doing and correcting his ideas. ."..
we " ll set you to rights." This is Lysistrata behaving badly in the context of Ancient Greece because once again women were seen as inferior to men, and not intelligent enough to give an informed opinion. Lysistrata telling the Magistrate she will set him to rights is implying she knows better than he does which was unheard of in that context. The Magistrates reaction was one of disbelief, "You set us to rights? Insufferable! I'm not standing for this... ." The emphasis by the italics of us and you showing his astonishment and highlighting the difference between the two genders. To continue her bad behaviour, Lysistrata then prompts the women to dress up the Magistrate in women's clothes, "[... the WOMEN putting on him various adornments which they themselves have been wearing.
]"Here's some ribbons - they " ll make you look swell... ."And here's a tiara as well... ." This is Lysistrata behaving badly in her context a in ancient Greek times it would have been unheard of to dress a man up in women's clothes, this is evident through the magistrates reaction, "Magistrate [fuming]: This is outrageous! I shall go at once and show my colleagues just what these women have done to me." Further on in the play Lysistrata displays her contextually bad behaviour again, by telling one of the other women to go to her husband and tease him, yet deny him sex when he want it. "Keep him on tender hooks - slow roast him - tantalize him - lead him on - say no, say yes. You can do anything - except what you swore over the cup not to do." This was behaving badly in Ancient Greek times as has been previously states, men expected sex from women and it was not seen as the woman's right to say yes or not, or tantalize her husband then reject him. The reaction to this was, "She's gone! She's done me and diddled me!" and "A villain, a villain, that's what she is!" These reactions show the men's astonishment at having sex denied, showing how out of the ordinary it was.
Towards the end of the play when the men finally start agreeing to bring about peace for sex, Lysistrata acts out of her gender role for the final times. The first being her seeing it as her job or role to bring about peace, "Why don't we ask Lysistrata to join us? She's the only person who can bring about true reconciliation." Even though the men have accepted her dominance at that time she is still acting madly by evolving herself in men's business, peace being related to war and war being a male dominated vicinity. The final way in which Lysistrata behaves contextually badly in the play, is through her ordering around of the men, "Now you Spartans stand right next to me on this side, and you Athenians on that side, and listen to what I have to say." Once again at this point in the play the men have accepted Lysistrata's dominance as it will be the quickest way for them to get what they want, however traditionally she is acting out of place by ordering around her superiors, or how men were viewed in Ancient Greece. Lysistrata behaves badly throughout the entire play, she behaves badly, verbally and physically, through both her actions and the actions of those who follow her. Yet it may only be viewed as her behaving badly though the context the play was written in as context has a large impact on values and attitudes. -Amanda McDonald.