Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Aristophanes's Lysistrata. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.
- Full Title: Lysistrata
- When Written: Circa 411 BC
- Where Written: Athens, Greece
- When Published: Lysistrata was first performed in 411 BC, probably during the Lenaia, an annual Athenian festival and drama competition.
- Literary Period: Classical
- Genre: Comedy
- Setting: Classical Athens
- Climax: Lysistrata’s sex strike against the Peloponnesian War threatens to unravel when the Greek women become increasingly desirous for sex
- Antagonist: The Athenian men’s political corruption, greed, and ambition; the Peloponnesian War
A New Leaf. Lysistrata is uncharacteristic of Aristophanes’ work, which tends to be more outrageously overflowing. Douglass Parker explains: “The play’s technical excellences are unquestionable: tight formal unity, economy of movement, realism in characterizations, range of feeling. They are also rather un-Aristophanic excellences, and the specialist who prefers earlier, comparatively messy pieces may perhaps be forgiven.”
Adaptations and Realizations. Many stage and film directors have adapted Lysistrata, most recently Spike Lee, whose film Chi-Raq (2015) transposes Aristophanes’ plot to inner-city Chicago. Instead of a sex strike against Greek-on-Greek warfare, Lee presents a sex-strike against gang-on-gang gun violence; and instead of Greek verse, his characters speak in the rhymes and cadences of rap music. But the plot of Lysistrata has also leapt off the stage and screen and into the real world. For example, in 2002, the Liberian Mass Action for Peace organized a sex strike in Liberia that ultimately contributed to the peaceful resolution of the Second Liberian Civil War.