Essay On "The Iliad" And "Lysistrata"

918 words - 4 pages

Great kings and powerful warriors engage in heroic duels with each other to gain massive power, while a group of women take a vow of abstinence until a war has ended. Two different pictures of war are depicted in "The Iliad" by Homer and "Lysistrata" by Aristophanes."The Iliad" is a poem which is believed to be a collection of stories handed down through many generations but not of just one man. It is a story of the Trojan War and the leaders of the two city-states. When "The Iliad" was finally written, around 750 B.C.E., the Trojan War had already been over for more hundreds of years. Because of this, many of the ideas and characteristics of "The Iliad" may have been changed from the original story."Lysistrata" was a play by a playwright, Aristophanes. "Lysistrata" was written in Athens, in 411 B.C.E. during the Peloponnesian War. The play is a comedy, which conjures an unusual way to end the Peloponnesian War.Both "The Iliad" and "Lysistrata" are stories which revolve around war. Both stories have all the characters deal with the war, not just have the war in the background. Yet, many differences are apparent in both stories.In "The Iliad," the authors of the story only include the great warriors and kings of the time. "The Iliad" contains characters such as; Achilles, a half man and half god who is the greatest warrior in all of Greece, Agamemnon, the king of all the kings in Greece, Paris, a prince of Troy who steals Helen, the wife of Agamemnon's brother, Meneleus, who goes to Agamemnon to start the war. There are no roles of any kind of working class or slaves in the story. This reflects on the social structure of the world in the time "The Iliad" was written. It shows how much importance was reflected on the Kings and great warriors of the time. It could also show how glorious war was depicted as the highest ranked men were the only ones included in the story. Unlike all the important men, there was only one main character woman in "The Iliad," Helen. This illustrates how much of the roles of women were not important to society at the time.Whereas in "Lysistrata," Aristophanes' characters are all mostly of working and middle class citizens. "Lysistrata" contains mostly characters who are wives of men who have gone to fight in the Peloponessian War or the men themselves. This reflects on the views of the middle class and how much importance they carry. "...but it's not easy, you know, for women to leave the house. One is busy pottering about her husband...a third is putting her child asleep." The middle class women are depicted as staying at home and waiting until the war will end when their husband will return to them. This shows how women were marked as servants for men and were considered lower than men. Also it shows that the society felt that women were helpless without men. Also, by having roles led by middle class men, it shows how power and importance in the society was given to all citizens, even the working class. This shows that during the time of "Lysistrata," democracy was being used by giving everyone power.Both stories, "The Iliad" and "Lysistrata," have many references to religious figures. Even though spaced hundreds of years apart, religion is a large part of war in both. In "The Iliad," the gods are there to aid an army to victory by helping, while in "Lysistrata," the gods are used to help stop and prevent the continuing war. In "The Iliad," the gods aid the war to prosper. "Be their friend and ally...carry water to extinguish them." This quote shows the women praying to Athena, asking for help in their mission.One of the most distinct differences between "The Iliad" and "Lysistrata" is how each society viewed war as civilized or not. "You have need no to prove yourself indeed a bold soldier and man of war." In "The Iliad," it is apparent that the culture of that time view war as heroic and glorious through the descriptions of great warriors. Men would gain power and prove themselves by becoming great warriors. Many of the great warriors in "The Iliad" were kings who seized that title through battles. But, several hundred years later in "Lysistrata," war was viewed as uncivilized and gruesome. Since the Peloponesian war lasted many years, the women of the play felt as if there husbands would not come back from the war. The women then try to stop the war to allow for their husbands to return home. This illustrates why the culture at the time did not view war as glorious, but thought of it as pointless.There are many differences and similarities depicted in "The Iliad" and "Lysistrata." Both have different views of the middle class, values in each culture, and the importance of the roles of women. Also, it is apparent that "Lysistrata" is fiction and that only some of "The Iliad" can be true. Yet, they are both important texts that allow current historians to gain information about their societies.


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