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…….It is 411 B.C., the twentieth year of the Peloponnesian War between the rival Greek city states of Athens and Sparta. Weary of the conflict, an Athens housewife, Lysistrata, invites women from the warring regions to assemble at the Acropolis in Athens for an urgent meeting. However, at the designated time for the meeting, only Lysistrata appears. Disappointed, she thinks that if the women she summoned had been invited to a drinking party or a festival honoring the goddess of love, Aphrodite, they would be attending in great numbers. However, she is heartened when her neighbor Cleonice arrives and tells Lysistrata that the rest of the women will come, eventually, after waking up their households, getting breakfasts, washing or nursing children, and so on.
…….When Cleonice asks the purpose of the meeting, Lysistrata tells her it is of utmost importance. In fact, it will mean the salvation of Greece. Incredulous, Cleonice replies that women are but delicate things–scented, slippered creatures in see-through gowns meant to keep house and please their husbands. But Lysistrata tells her that womanly daintiness is the very thing that will bring about salvation.
…….Soon, others arrive–from Acharnae, Anagyra, Sparta (known as Lacedaemon), and other locales–making excuses for their lateness. Myrrhine, for example, says her arrival was delayed because she had to hunt for her corset in the darkness. Lampito, a rosy-cheeked Spartan yokel who shows up with friends from Boeotia and Corinth, inquires about the reason for the meeting. Lysistrata replies with a question: Are the women in the doldrums because their husbands are away at war? They all affirm that they are and that the days and weeks of separation have grown into months.
…….Cleonice says her husband has been away five months in Thrace, and Myrrhine reports that her husband has been absent seven months since leaving for Pylos. Lampito says her husband does visit occasionally but returns to war just as quickly as he came. Lysistrata then reveals her plan: The women shall refuse all marital relations until Sparta and Athens make peace. The women balk at first, refusing to participate…. By Michael J. Cummings, www.cummingsstudyguides.net
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