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Marathon: Aristophanes' Lysistrata. No Peace for Athens!?! No Sex for You!

For our sixth annual Classics Marathon, faculty and students gathered on October 26 for an unrehearsed staged reading of Aristophanes' Lysistrata.


Athens has been at war for many years with other Greek city-states. As the play begins, Lysistrata, a young married woman, has summoned women both of Athens and of her current enemies to a meeting. When they arrive, she reveals her plan: to carry out a sex strike, in which no woman will sleep with her husband until the men stop the war. The woman are at first reluctant to make such a sacrifice, but she persuades them, and they take an oath.

Meanwhile, the women of Athens have taken over the Acropolis. The chorus of old men arrive with firewood and torches to besiege them; they are confronted by the chorus of old women, armed with jars of water to put our their fire. A class ensues.

The Councilor (an Athenian official) arrives accompanied by Scythian guards (the police force of Athens) and slaves with crowbars, and tries to dislodge the women. Lysistrata and several old women successfully resist him; this scene is followed by another angry exchange between the two choruses.

Several days later, Lysistrata emerges to express concern: women are unwilling to hold out any longer, and several have run away. Three more now make the attempt. This episode is followed by a scene in which the Cinesias, husband Myrrhine, one of the women on the Acropolis, arrives with their baby to beg her to come back; he is obviously starved for sex (as indicated in the original production by a large phallus), and she appears willing to accommodate him – at first.

Now a herald arrives from Sparta, like Cinesias in desperate condition. He and Cinesias talk, and the herald agreed that Sparta will send ambassadors to arrange a treaty. In the wake of this move towards peace, the two choruses reconcile and unite.

Spartan and Athenian ambassadors show up in the same condition as the herald. Lysistrata calls on the goddess Reconciliation, represented by a naked woman, to come out and preside over the peace-making – which succeeds, and is followed by a raucous celebration.

Note: since this is a staged reading, not a theatrical performance, we are using minimal costuming and props; what you don't see, you should imagine.

We are using Sarah Ruden's translation with the generous permission of Hackett.


Speaking characters

Lysistrata: Emma Mongoven
Calonice: Zoe Fox
Myrrhine: Rachel Tenpenny
Lampito: Vanessa Felso
Men's chorus leader: Jacob Horn
Chorus of old men: William Leeser, Kiran Rajamani, Bret Mulligan, Henning Wrage, Robert Germany
Women's chorus leader: Sasha Agins
Chorus of old women: Alicia Harder, Catherine Divizio, Florencia Foxley, Deborah Roberts, Danielle La Londe
Councilor: James Burvant
Old woman 1: Florencia Foxley
Old woman 2: Danielle La Londe
Old woman 3: Deborah Roberts
Woman 1: Alicia Harder
Woman 2: Catherine Divizio
Woman 3: Sasha Agins
Cinesias: Matthew Da Silva
Cinesias' Baby: Bret Mulligan
Spartan Herald: Matt Holmes
United Chorus: members of both choruses (and anyone else who wants to join in)
United Chorus leader: Jacob Horn
Spartan Ambassador: Matt Holmes
Athenian Ambassador 1: Lucian Grand
Athenian Ambassador 2: Connor Odekirk

Nonspeaking characters

Athenian women: Alicia Harder, Florencia Foxley
Boeotian woman: Catherine Divizio
Corinthian woman: Sasha Agins
Spartan women: Danielle La Londe, Deborah Roberts
Scythian Guard, slaves, etc,: Bret Mulligan, Henning Wrage, Robert Germany, William Leeser, Kiran Ramajani
Reconciliation: Danielle La Londe
Piper: Deborah Roberts