Monday, January 4, 2016

Lysistrata and Other Plays - Aristophanes


I first heard of Aristophanes at some point in high school, while studying something cheerful like Antigone or Medea during VCE. And in comparison, Greek comedy sounded like a hell of a lot of fun, which is why I figured I may as well add some to my Classics Club list, especially after hearing Lysistrata referred to as essentially a feminist story.

This collection started with The Achanians, which is essentially arguing for peace during a long war with Sparta. Next came The Clouds, which basically takes the piss out of the Greek philosophers. And finally, I came to Lysistrata, which features the women of the various Greek city states deciding that the quickest way to end a war is to withhold sex.

Of the three, I think The Achanians may have been my favourite. All three featured a hell of a lot of dick jokes, but The Achanians also involved a lot of poking fun at the other city states, which was still pretty damned funny thousands of years later. That said, Lysistrata is definitely a rare classic in that it's very female dominated and revolves around women having agency over their bodies, so it was definitely a pretty great read as well.

I had a few issues with the translation in this one. Obviously, a lot of the humour wouldn't translate well to modern English - thankfully, Penguin always provide plenty of footnotes on that front! - but Alan H. Sommerstein made the decision to make the Spartans have stereotypical Scottish accents and mannerisms, and the Corinthians have stereotypical Irish accents and mannerisms. Which DID work moderately well - it gave a sense of how the Athenians felt about each of their neighbouring city states. But at the same time, it was totally bizarre to have characters with Scottish accents talking about Zeus and Athena and Poseidon.

On the whole, this collection was funnier than I was anticipating - I thought it would be more like Shakespeare's comedies, where they're hilarious in person but on the page, they tend to be pretty dry, so I was pleasantly surprised to find myself laughing out loud while reading it, and I'm definitely glad I put it on my Classics Club list!

Have you read it? What did you think??

K xx

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