Lysistrata

Athena and the Acropolis Symbol Analysis

Athena and the Acropolis Symbol Icon

Athena was the tutelary wisdom goddess of Athens, and she was worshiped chiefly at her temple in the Acropolis, a great citadel that served as the political and religious center of Athens, home to the Athenian war treasury. In Lysistrata, Athena is a shadowy but important presence. She symbolizes the wisdom that the Athenian men, in their greed and ambition, have forgotten. Relatedly, the Acropolis symbolizes political control over Athens; it is the mind of the Athenian body politic, where Athena’s wisdom should reign. Under the control of the men, however, this mind has gone mad, and so the women under Lysistrata’s leadership storm the Acropolis to restore sanity, wisdom, and peace. Over the course of the play, Aristophanes cleverly modulates this symbol so that the Acropolis, fiercely besieged by the men and even more fiercely defended by the women, also comes to be associated with the female anatomy. When wisdom is forgotten, a reminder of our basic needs might be just what we need to bring us to our senses. By the end of the play, Athens and Sparta make peace, Athena as the goddess of wisdom once again rules in the Acropolis, and sex and wisdom are unified into what Douglass Parker calls “the civilizing force of love.”

Athena and the Acropolis Quotes in Lysistrata

The Lysistrata quotes below all refer to the symbol of Athena and the Acropolis. 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:

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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:

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Koryphaios of Women:
I’ll crop your lungs and reap your bowels, bite by bite,
and leave no balls on the body for other bitches to
gnaw.

Koryphaios of Men:
[Retreating hurriedly.]
Can’t beat Euripides for insight. And I quote:
No creature’s found
so lost to shame as Woman.

Talk about realist playwrights!

Related Characters: The Female Koryphaios (speaker), The Male Koryphaios (speaker)
Related Symbols: Athena and the Acropolis
Page Number: 368-370
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Commissioner:
I DO NOT WANT TO BE SAVED, DAMMIT!

Lysistrata:
All the more reason.
It’s not only Sparta: now we’ll have to save you from
you.

Related Characters: Lysistrata (speaker), Commissioner of Public Safety (speaker)
Related Symbols: Athena and the Acropolis
Page Number: 522-523
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lines 706 – 979 Quotes

I’ve lost my grip on the girls—they’re mad for men!
But sly—they slip out in droves.

Related Characters: Lysistrata (speaker)
Related Symbols: Athena and the Acropolis
Page Number: 714-715
Explanation and Analysis:

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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:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

—Life is a husk. She left our home, and happiness
went with her. Now pain is the tenant. Oh, to enter
that wifeless house, to sense that awful emptiness,
to eat that tasteless, joyless food—it makes
it hard, I tell you.

Related Characters: Kinesias (speaker), Myrrhine
Related Symbols: Athena and the Acropolis
Page Number: 865-869
Explanation and Analysis:
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Athena and the Acropolis Symbol Timeline in Lysistrata

The timeline below shows where the symbol Athena and the Acropolis appears in Lysistrata. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Lines 1 – 253
Gender Roles Theme Icon
The play opens on a street in Athens, with the Acropolis visible in the background. It is early morning. Lysistrata is alone, pacing in furious impatience,... (full context)
War and Peace Theme Icon
Rebellion, Patriotism, and the Political Power of Comedy Theme Icon
...Athenian men from continuing the war effort, the Chorus of Old Women will seize the Acropolis, where the war treasury is located, on Lysistrata’s command. (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
Lampito then hears a “ruckus” in the distance—the Chorus of Old Women have taken the Acropolis, citadel of the wise goddess Athena! Lysistrata tells Lampito to return to Sparta to work... (full context)
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
...fire, which is always in danger of going out. They’re intent on seizing back the Acropolis. As they shuffle on, they gripe about their wives (“she’s a National Disaster,” one named... (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. To prevent the... (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
...to put out the fire before its too late, praying as they do so for Athena’s protection from “Man’s inhumanity.” (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
...Utter Anarchy.” The Commissioner concludes that he needs to access the war treasury in the Acropolis, and orders his squad of police to pry the gate open with a crowbar. (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
Just then, the gate to the Acropolis bursts open, revealing Lysistrata. She is perfectly composed and is holding a large spindle, an... (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
...charge as a unit, but a horde of women brandishing household goods pours from the Acropolis. Lysistrata urges these “ladies of hell” onward, these bargain hunters and “grocery grenadiers.” The policemen... (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
...women suggest, is to choose death. The Commissioner staggers off, and the women re-enter the Acropolis. (full context)
Lines 706 – 979
Sexuality and the Battle of the Sexes Theme Icon
Rebellion, Patriotism, and the Political Power of Comedy Theme Icon
A distraught Lysistrata emerges from the Acropolis. In a lofty speech more suitable for a tragedy than a comedy, she reveals that... (full context)
Sexuality and the Battle of the Sexes Theme Icon
...women begin to crowd around Lysistrata. Kleonike complains of “those goddamned holy owls” in the Acropolis who hoot all night long. But Lysistrata understands that the women are really bothered by... (full context)
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Sexuality and the Battle of the Sexes Theme Icon
...can’t make love on the ground. She goes off to get a cot from the Acropolis. She returns—but, she just remembered, the couple will need a mattress, too. Kinesias says he... (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
...But only Lysistrata can truly make Peace. Sure enough, she emerges at once from the Acropolis, to much praise from the Male Koryphaios. Lysistrata is also accompanied by Peace herself, who... (full context)
War and Peace Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Rebellion, Patriotism, and the Political Power of Comedy Theme Icon
Lysistrata promises the Greek men a feast, and with that she and Peace enter the Acropolis. The delegations exit at a run. The Chorus of Old Women sing about jewelry on... (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
The Choruses flock together, unified at last, to the door of the Acropolis. The Commissioner, wearing a wreath, carrying a torch, and slightly drunk, emerges from therein. He... (full context)
War and Peace Theme Icon
Kinesias also emerges from the Acropolis, wreathed and drunk. Speaking in the Spartan dialect, he praises the feast as “splendiferous.” Wine... (full context)
War and Peace Theme Icon
Everyone now emerges from the Acropolis, including the Spartan and Athenian delegations, a flutist, and Lysistrata and her women. The flutist... (full context)
War and Peace Theme Icon
Rebellion, Patriotism, and the Political Power of Comedy Theme Icon
...the “Spartan muse” and sing a lively ode to dancing, beautiful girls, Spartan rivers, and Athena. Everyone then exits, dancing and singing. (full context)