Lysistrata

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The Chorus of Old Men is composed of weak, shaky, doddering old men who are portrayed as comically inept and impotent. They grouchily complain about women and are furious when the Chorus of Old Women seizes the Acropolis. The old men, staunch supporters of the war, haul their phallic torches and firepots up to the Acropolis to burn and smoke Lysistrata and her women out, but the women’s pitchers of freezing water soon repel them.

The Chorus of Old Men Quotes in Lysistrata

The Lysistrata quotes below are all either spoken by The Chorus of Old Men or refer to The Chorus of Old Men . 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 254 – 705 Quotes

What a catastrophe—
MATRIARCHY!
They’ve brought Athene’s statue to heel,
they’ve put the Akropolis under a seal,
they’ve copped the whole damned commonweal…
What is there left for them to steal?

Related Characters: The Chorus of Old Men (speaker)
Related Symbols: Athena and the Acropolis
Page Number: 258-265
Explanation and Analysis:

The women have agreed to Lysistrata's plan of abstaining from sex; at the same time, the Chorus of Old Women has seized the Acropolis, thereby putting the other half of Lysistrata's plan into action. Meanwhile, the Chorus of Old Men has entered, complaining about their wives and how the group of women has managed to take over the Acropolis. The Chorus calls matriarchy "a catastrophe," which is ironic, considering Lysistrata's whole plan was designed to avoid the catastrophe caused by the rule of men. The words "they've put the Acropolis under a seal" highlight the connection between the Old Women sealing off the Acropolis and the younger women sealing off their bodies from their husbands. At this stage, however, the Old Men remain ignorant about the plan for abstinence, which builds comic suspense. 

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Preserve me, Athene, from gazing on any
maiden or maid auto-da fé’d.
Cover with grace these redeemers of Greece
from battles, insanity, Man’s inhumanity.
Gold-browed goddess, hither to aid us!
Fight as our ally, join in our sally
against pyromaniac slaughter—
Haul Water!

Related Characters: The Chorus of Old Women (speaker), The Chorus of Old Men
Related Symbols: Athena and the Acropolis
Page Number: 335-349
Explanation and Analysis:

The Chorus of Old Men have been slowly and shakily making their way to the Acropolis, revealing their bumbling incompetence while at the same time praying to Athena to grant them victory over the women. The Chorus of Old Men have resolved to burn down the gates of the Acropolis, but at the same time, the Chorus of Old Women are preparing buckets of water to put the fires out. They, too, pray to Athena to grant them victory over "battles, insanity, Man's inhumanity." The contrast between the two Choruses reveal the men to be brutish and self-interested, hoping to use force to gain back "supremacy" over the women. The women, meanwhile, are cunning, pre-empting the men's attack with fire by preparing buckets of water.

Furthermore, the women are also shown to be motivated beyond self-interest. Rather than wanting to secure "matriarchy" for its own sake, the women seek an end to the destruction caused by war and "slaughter." In this sense, the women are shown to be wiser, more caring, and even more patriotic leaders than the men. 

Lines 706 – 979 Quotes

Melanion is our ideal:
his loathing makes us free.
Our dearest aim is the gemlike flame
of his misogyny.

Related Characters: The Chorus of Old Men (speaker), The Chorus of Old Women
Related Symbols: Athena and the Acropolis
Page Number: 790-792
Explanation and Analysis:

The women have confessed that they are pining for the men and wish to leave the Acropolis; Lysistrata, however, has urged them not to give in by telling them an analogy about Zeus. The women reluctantly agree. Meanwhile, the two choruses have assembled, and the Chorus of Old Men sings about a man called Melanion, who abstained from women permanently. The chorus claims that this is their "ideal," and that they look up to "the gemlike flame of his misogyny." This is a highly silly moment, in which the Chorus of Old Men seem desperate to find a way of dealing with the fact that the women have abandoned them, and thus unconvincingly pretend that they have no interest in women in the first place. 

On the other hand, the Chorus of Old Men is also pointing to a more serious phenomenon. Throughout history, women have been portrayed as sly seducers who distract men from more important matters such as war, politics, or religion. The ability to resist the temptation of women is thus often framed as a noble masculine virtue, the sign of dignity, discipline, and self-restraint. Although it is unusual to portray this in terms of "loathing" for women, there is nonetheless a long tradition of men believing that such resistance to women will indeed set them free. 

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The Chorus of Old Men Character Timeline in Lysistrata

The timeline below shows where the character The Chorus of Old Men appears in Lysistrata. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Lines 254 – 705
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Sexuality and the Battle of the Sexes Theme Icon
Rebellion, Patriotism, and the Political Power of Comedy Theme Icon
The decrepit Chorus of Old Men , led by their especially decrepit Male Koryphaios (leader of the chorus), enters shakily and... (full context)
War and Peace Theme Icon
Sexuality and the Battle of the Sexes Theme Icon
As the Chorus of Old Men nears the Acropolis, the old men increasingly struggle to carry their torches and firepots uphill.... (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
While the Chorus of Old Men prepares the torches, the Chorus of Old Women, led by their Female Koryphaios, suddenly enters,... (full context)
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Sexuality and the Battle of the Sexes Theme Icon
Rebellion, Patriotism, and the Political Power of Comedy Theme Icon
The two Choruses at last come face to face with one another. The Chorus of Old Men is surprised by the “flood of reserves” the Chorus of Old Women has managed to... (full context)
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Sexuality and the Battle of the Sexes Theme Icon
Rebellion, Patriotism, and the Political Power of Comedy Theme Icon
The Chorus of Old Men and the Chorus of Old Women fire more threats and insults back and forth. The... (full context)
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Sexuality and the Battle of the Sexes Theme Icon
Rebellion, Patriotism, and the Political Power of Comedy Theme Icon
...and she swings at him with a pitcher. He’s forced to hurriedly back away. The Chorus of Old Men goes into a worried dance. (full context)
War and Peace Theme Icon
Sexuality and the Battle of the Sexes Theme Icon
...denounces tyranny, bashes the Female Koryphaios “in the jaw,” and runs cackling back to the Chorus of Old Men . (full context)
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Sexuality and the Battle of the Sexes Theme Icon
Rebellion, Patriotism, and the Political Power of Comedy Theme Icon
The members of the Chorus of Old Men have had it: they remove their tunics. The Male Koryphaios reasons that the men can’t... (full context)
Lines 706 – 979
Sexuality and the Battle of the Sexes Theme Icon
The two Choruses assemble. The Chorus of Old Men sing proudly of a huntsman called Melanion who learned to live without women, “sustained by... (full context)
Lines 980 – 1323
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
...be no more mischief between them, and then they address the audience in song. The Chorus of Old Men wish the Athenians wealth, and the Chorus of Old Women wish them good eating. (full context)
War and Peace Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Rebellion, Patriotism, and the Political Power of Comedy Theme Icon
...sing about jewelry on offer—the joke is they don’t really have anything to sell. The Chorus of Old Men , meanwhile, offer free wheat to the audience—the joke being that they own a tremendous... (full context)