Lysistrata

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Kleonike Character Analysis

The fun-loving Athenian woman Kleonike is the first to respond to her neighbor Lysistrata’s summons at the beginning of the play. However, Kleonike conforms more to Athenian gender stereotypes than her neighbor does. She loves soft, fancy garments, and she would rather walk through fire than abstain from having sex. She even slanders her own sex as being superficial, lazy, and unwise. That being said, once she joins Lysistrata’s cause Kleonike proves herself to be sharp-tongued and fierce: she serves as the women’s spokesperson when they swear their Oath to abstain from sex, and she wields a chamber pot in the fight against the Athenian police.

Kleonike Quotes in Lysistrata

The Lysistrata quotes below are all either spoken by Kleonike or refer to Kleonike. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
War and Peace Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the New American Library edition of Lysistrata published in 1984.
Lines 1 – 253 Quotes

Us? Be practical. Wisdom for women? There’s nothing

cosmic about cosmetics—and Glamor is our only talent.

All we can do is sit, primped and painted,

made up and dressed up.

Related Characters: Kleonike (speaker), Lysistrata
Page Number: 41-43
Explanation and Analysis:

While they wait for the other women, Kleonike has asked Lysistrata to describe her plan. Lysistrata has explained that she wants to unite all Greek women into bringing about the end of the Peloponnesian War, thereby saving Greece from itself. Kleonike responds cynically; she clearly thinks Lysistrata's plan is ridiculous. In this passage, Kleonike explains that women will never be able to act wisely (or even effectively), because "glamor is our only talent." Clearly, Lysistrata and Kleonike have very different attitudes to gender roles (and the possibility of subverting them).

While Lysistrata laments the stereotypes women are held against and believes it is possible for women to transcend them, Kleonike seems happy to accept the idea that all women can do is be "made up and dressed up." Note that the examples she gives are in the passive tense, implying that even this "primping" is something that is done to women, rather than something they choose to do themselves. Obviously, this does not bode well for political action. At the same time, Lysistrata plans to use these stereotypes to her advantage; by withholding sex, the women will not have to actively do anything, but rather look enticing while denying their husbands intimacy. 

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I’m willing to walk through fire barefoot.
But not

to give up SEX—there’s nothing like it, Lysistrata!

Related Characters: Kleonike (speaker), Lysistrata
Page Number: 134-136
Explanation and Analysis:

The women have pleaded to know why Lysistrata has brought them together, and Lysistrata has told them that she plans for them to collectively bring about peace. Although the women initially pledge to do anything for this cause––including die––when Lysistrata eventually reveals that she is asking them to give up sex, the women are appalled. In this comic passage, Kleonike emphasizes that she would "walk through fire barefoot" rather than give up sex. Once again, the women are shown to be shallow, frivolous, and weak-willed. Kleonike's insistence that "there's nothing like it" suggests that she is unable to look beyond her immediate pleasure in order to serve the greater good of ending the war. The women's reaction also coheres with the play's crude humor, in which sex takes on an outsized significance, while also being presented as something universal and essentially human (i.e., not particularly "sacred" or idealized). 

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Kleonike Character Timeline in Lysistrata

The timeline below shows where the character Kleonike appears in Lysistrata. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Lines 1 – 253
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Rebellion, Patriotism, and the Political Power of Comedy Theme Icon
Lysistrata’s neighbor Kleonike enters. “Don’t look so barbarous, baby,” she says. Lysistrata responds that she’s ashamed to be... (full context)
War and Peace Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Rebellion, Patriotism, and the Political Power of Comedy Theme Icon
Kleonike asks what Lysistrata’s plot is all about. Lysistrata responds that the hope and salvation of... (full context)
War and Peace Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Sexuality and the Battle of the Sexes Theme Icon
Rebellion, Patriotism, and the Political Power of Comedy Theme Icon
...the Greek women to form an alliance and save the States of Greece. “Be practical,” Kleonike advises. Women are unwise, she says, and are talented only in glamorously painting their faces... (full context)
War and Peace Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Rebellion, Patriotism, and the Political Power of Comedy Theme Icon
...showers the out-of-towners with compliments. Lampito demonstrates the dance that keeps her so fit, and Kleonike praises the beauty of her bosoms. Lampito says, in her “bumpkin” Spartan dialect, that she... (full context)
War and Peace Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Sexuality and the Battle of the Sexes Theme Icon
Rebellion, Patriotism, and the Political Power of Comedy Theme Icon
...turn away and begin to gloomily walk off, in tears. “On with the War!” cry Kleonike and Myrrhine. They’re willing to walk through fire barefoot, “but not to give up SEX—there... (full context)
War and Peace Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Sexuality and the Battle of the Sexes Theme Icon
Rebellion, Patriotism, and the Political Power of Comedy Theme Icon
...their hot and bothered men. Lysistrata thinks the men will conclude a treaty rather quickly. Kleonike worries that the men will leave the women, or force them to have sex, or... (full context)
War and Peace Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Sexuality and the Battle of the Sexes Theme Icon
Rebellion, Patriotism, and the Political Power of Comedy Theme Icon
...The women surround the cup and place their right hand on it, and Lysistrata leads Kleonike through the Oath as a spokesperson for all the women. To uphold the Oath, the... (full context)
War and Peace Theme Icon
Sexuality and the Battle of the Sexes Theme Icon
Rebellion, Patriotism, and the Political Power of Comedy Theme Icon
...exits. Lysistrata then orders the women to hurry inside the Acropolis to help the others. Kleonike worries that the men will send reinforcements against them, but Lysistrata is confident that the... (full context)
Lines 254 – 705
War and Peace Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Sexuality and the Battle of the Sexes Theme Icon
Rebellion, Patriotism, and the Political Power of Comedy Theme Icon
...jab of her spindle. The Commissioner orders a second policeman to do the same, but Kleonike forces him to retreat by threatening to “stomp the shit right out of [him]” with... (full context)
War and Peace Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Sexuality and the Battle of the Sexes Theme Icon
...outraged by Lysistrata’s presumptuousness, but she shuts him up, winding her veil around his head. Kleonike and Myrrhine join in with comb and wool-basket as well, and soon enough the Commissioner... (full context)
War and Peace Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Sexuality and the Battle of the Sexes Theme Icon
Rebellion, Patriotism, and the Political Power of Comedy Theme Icon
...responds that the women first intend to withdraw the Army of Occupation from downtown Athens. Kleonike adds that she saw a cavalry captain buy soup on horseback there and carry it... (full context)
War and Peace Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Sexuality and the Battle of the Sexes Theme Icon
Rebellion, Patriotism, and the Political Power of Comedy Theme Icon
...Lysistrata bangs the Commissioner on the head with her spindle and winds him in thread; Kleonike empties her chamber pot over him; Myrrhine breaks her lamp on his head. To choose... (full context)
Lines 706 – 979
Sexuality and the Battle of the Sexes Theme Icon
The other women begin to crowd around Lysistrata. Kleonike complains of “those goddamned holy owls” in the Acropolis who hoot all night long. But... (full context)