Women's Masculine, Maternal and Minor Roles in Aristophanes' Lysistrata, Ekklesiazusae and Thesmophoriazusae Open Access

Fulton, Kristen Montelione (2011)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/6969z135t?locale=en


By examining the minor characters and topics of gender reversal and motherhood as discussed throughout Aristophanes' Lysistrata, Thesmophoriazusae, and Ekklesiazusae, it is possible to better understand Aristophanes' motivations for writing, and for writing these plays particularly. The characters of Praxagora in Ekklesiazusae and Mnesilochus in Thesmophoriazusae are reflections of each other in various ways, but most importantly they both cross-dress in order to accomplish their goals. Praxagora, as a man, does succeed in her goal, but Mnesilochus, as a woman, does not succeed in his. Aristophanes has presented Lysistrata and Praxagora as childless in order to allow them to devote their maternal instincts to the city. If Lysistrata and Praxagora were distracted by children they would not be able to focus on protecting Athens. The minor female characters who appear in these three plays are unintelligent and stereotypical compared to the brilliance and uniqueness of Praxagora and Lysistrata and are meant to show that women like Praxagora and Lysistrata, who know their worth and the worth of their ideas, are exceptional. Although Aristophanes' portrayal of women in his other plays is quite unflattering, the way he shows them in these three women plays shows a glimpse of someone who, if he is not a proto-feminist, at least sympathizes with women and realizes their potential as leaders.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents Introduction 1 Chapter One: Gender Reversal 10

Chapter Two: Implications of Parenthood 26

Chapter Three: Minor Female Characters 39

Conclusion 51

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