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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

13 March 2013

Women - you can't live with them, you can't live without them
This is a pretty famous proverb, quoted in everything from The Shining to the bloke at the bus stop. However, not many people know that this timeless piece of wisdom comes from an Ancient Greek satire.

Today's Daily Quota is my favourite Ancient Greek play - Aristophanes' Lysistrata.
This is why it's my favourite - it's the story of a woman who was able to bring the leaders of armies to their knees, simply by withholding sex.

The ancient Greeks had a very tongue-in-cheek way of romanticizing their women - they would be in awe of their beauty, their capacity for love, maternity and emotion. They would reinforce paternal dominance over the inferior femme fatales.
However, they would also marvel at their capacity for passionate outrage, for fiery revenge, for malicious cunning and melancholy. They would constantly remind young men - although men are strong, women are stronger.

Such a bittersweet attitude to the fairer sex is present in almost every work of theirs - from the huge range of crazy and loveable female characters in Homer's Odyssey and Iliad, to the fiery Medea, all the way down to Aristotle Onassis' pearls of wisdom.

In fact, it had inspired me to write an extensive satirical piece on the topic. It can be found here at my other blog.

Here's a basic rundown of the plot:

The men of Athens were preparing for the Peloponnesian War with Sparta, and as such, had caused a severe shortage of labour for other tasks.
This annoyed Lysistrata, a woman of strong character, and so she convinced the women of Athens to barricade themselves in the Acropolis and withhold sex from the men. This involved paying prostitutes' lost earnings so that they too could participate.
Long story short, the men recited a few variations of 'bitches be crazy', and they eventually caved to the sex strike, and war was averted.

In a way, Lysistrata stands as one of the most overlooked pioneers of feminism - fighting male fires, not with moisture, but with drought.
Trust me, read the 'plot' section of Lysistrata - you'll be thankful for it.


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