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LYSISTRATA by Aristophanes, Part 01

410 BC
LYSISTRATA
by Aristophanes
anonymous translator
CHARACTERS IN THE PLAY

LYSISTRATA
CLEONICE
MYRRHINE
LAMPITO
MAGISTRATES
CINESIAS
CHILD OF CINESIAS
HeraLD OF THE LACEDAEMONIANS
ENVOYS OF THE LACEDAEMONIANS
AN ATHENIAN CITIZEN
CHORUS OF OLD MEN
CHORUS OF WOMEN


LYSISTRATA
LYSISTRATA


(SCENE:-At the base of the Orchestra are two buildings, the house
of LYSISTRATA and the entrance to the Acropolis; a winding and
narrow path leads up to the latter. Between the two buildings is the
opening of the Cave of Pan. LYSISTRATA is pacing up and down in
front of her house.)

LYSISTRATA
Ah! if only they had been invited to a Bacchic revelling, or a
feast of Pan or Aphrodite or Genetyllis, why! the streets would have
been impassable for the thronging tambourines! Now there's never a
woman here-ah! except my neighbour Cleonice, whom I see approaching
yonder.... Good day, Cleonice.
CLEONICE
Good day, Lysistrata; but pray, why this dark, forbidding face, my
dear? Believe me, you don't look a bit pretty with those black
lowering brows.
LYSISTRATA
Oh, Cleonice, my heart is on fire; I blush for our sex. Men will
have it we are tricky and sly....
CLEONICE
And they are quite right, upon my word!
LYSISTRATA
Yet, look you, when the women are summoned to meet for a matter of
the greatest importance, they lie in bed instead of coming.
CLEONICE
Oh! they will come, my dear; but it's not easy, you know, for
women to leave the house. One is busy pottering about her husband;
another is getting the servant up; a third is putting her child asleep
or washing the brat or feeding it.
LYSISTRATA
But I tell you, the business that calls them here is far and
away more urgent.
CLEONICE
And why do you summon us, dear Lysistrata? What is it all about?
LYSISTRATA
About a big thing.
CLEONICE (taking this in a different sense; with great interest)
And is it thick too?
LYSISTRATA
Yes, very thick.
CLEONICE
And we are not all on the spot! Imagine!
LYSISTRATA (wearily)
Oh! if it were what you suppose, there would be never an absentee.
No, no, it concerns a thing I have turned about and about this way and
that so many sleepless nights.
CLEONICE (still unable to be serious)
It must be something mighty fine and subtle for you to have turned
it about so!
LYSISTRATA
So fine, it means just this, Greece saved by the women!
CLEONICE
By the women! Why, its salvation hangs on a poor thread then!
LYSISTRATA
Our country's fortunes depend on us-it is with us to undo
utterly the Peloponnesians.
CLEONICE
That would be a noble deed truly!
LYSISTRATA
To exterminate the Boeotians to a man!
CLEONICE
But surely you would spare the eels.
LYSISTRATA
For Athens' sake I will never threaten so fell a doom; trust me
for that. However, if the Boeotian and Peloponnesian women join us,
Greece is saved.
CLEONICE
But how should women perform so wise and glorious an
achievement, we women who dwell in the retirement of the household,
clad in diaphanous garments of yellow silk and long flowing gowns,
decked out with flowers and shod with dainty little slippers?
LYSISTRATA
Ah, but those are the very sheet-anchors of our salvation-those
yellow tunics, those scents and slippers, those cosmetics and
transparent robes.

 

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