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Homosexuality and Misogyny in Greek Life

Feminine equality and the need of a male female relationship, these two ideas are what many people believe in today’s society to have always been around since the beginning of time. But these people are wrong because both misogyny and homosexuality have been around for thousands of years and in this paper I intend to converse about homosexuality and misogyny in the time of Greek antiquity compared to how Aristophanes portrays it in Lysistrata. In this essay I will cover the topic of homosexuality and misogyny in the society of people in Greek antiquity.

In the second half of he paper I will come out with some sections from the said play pointing out the topics of homosexuality and misogyny in the dialogue with my interpretation of what each one means. Homosexuality is the liking of someone sexually or attracted to someone of the same sex. In Greek times “homosexuality and emphasis on idealized male beauty and strength were concurrent beliefs (Sacks 263). This is believed because of the fact that the penis was the major fertile icon.

All types of fertility were taken from the women even as bearing the gods. In mythology Zeus’ penis was known as the womb for all other gods and oddesses. “When males in ancient Greece would come around puberty they would “become a man” by having relations not with women but with other male children” (Pratt). Athens in antiquity was a cultural center and with being a cultural center comes being replicated. By this I mean that other cities and other cultures might have mimicked what the men in Ancient Greece were doing.

So the homoerotic nature of the males in Greece was not just found in Greece and it would be found elsewhere in the world. But because of the homoerotic lifestyle in Athens and ancient Greece Aristophanes might have een a bit far off with the idea of a woman’s sex strike being useful. Men at times not only would not partake in the pleasures of the female body but there was also misogyny. Misogyny was born of the fear of women. It spawned the ideology of male superiority. “Misogyny was found in the everyday lives of the women of Ancient Greece.

Women were second-class citizens at best and had no active involvement in society other than participation in religious activities. Their most important function was reproduction, to ensure heirs. They lived almost exclusively in the house, in separate quarters called the women’s chambers” (Sacks, 263). “Xenophon, a Greek writer, notes that women are weaker, less courageous, and more affectionate towards children. These qualities justify their inferior status in society” (Foley 1305).

Women in Greek antiquity were stuck in this rut of being a weaker sex and of being a “second-class citizen” until “the fourth century, under the influence of their fathers and husbands, a few women rejected traditional roles and turned to the study of philosophy; the notion of marriage for the sake of children began to yield to an ideal of companionate union for mutual fulfillment. This development was resisted vigorously” (Katz 3). All of these things happen to the women in the fourth century, which comes much later than our Lysistrata author Aristophanes.

The women of Aristophanes’ time were all still stuck under the misogyny of the time. One of the writers around the time of Aristophanes who was a well known author and probably influenced society was “Aristotle who states, the female body is more porous; their blood, like the old and the sick, is thicker; teeth are fewer and less effective; the muscles are weaker; the brain is smaller with fewer parts that allow the brain to breathe. Women are unable to control themselves when it comes to appetites and emotions, and are less capable of shame.

Their nature makes them more apt to lie and deceive” (Foley 1305). All of the points that Aristotle makes in the above passage are fallacies. Which most if not all of them were mocked in Lysistrata. Lysistrata by Aristophanes was written in 411 BC. Lysistrata the major female character in the play is heading up the protest to the war. “… we must do without sex altogether” (Klaus 115). This line in the play is the first time that Lysistrata speaks of the sex strike. Which by the means of the social history of Greece would not be effective at all.

This line goes on to ask questions of the other women that she is talking to about why they turn away and show that they rather not go on the strike, which later is successful. But, if this sex strike was to work the women might have had to get everyone on the protest. This is because of the homosexuality in the world of Greece. Aristophanes” depiction of women being necessary in order for the men at war to have sex is outlandish given the facts of homosexuality in Greek history. Misogyny also exists within the play in a more “real” sense.

At least more real than that of the fact that women were needed for sex. By God! If someone gave them two or three smacks in the jaw, like Bupalus, they wouldn’t talk to much” (Klaus 118). This is a perfect example of misogyny, which is basically meaning that men are superior. Just in this one instance of the Leader of Men speaking we here him talk about physical abuse to the Leader of Women. This is subject to interpretation as is anything in the world but my personal interpretation here I see a threat to give sex back to the men of war or else. I find this to be one of the most point driven lines in the show of misogyny.

Here we hear him say “two or three smacks to the jaw” which is a verbal threat, which was tolerated in the time of ancient Greece. With this threat, though it would have been over exaggerated in the theatre of ancient Greece, it is still literature proving that this was maybe not so uncommon to Greek women. I suspect this because theatre reflects the society in which it is created. In conclusion I have covered many points. Both homosexuality and misogyny in Greek life. As well as touching in on both of these subject ithin Aristophanes” play Lysistrata.

The major point that I want you to come off with reading this essay is that there is no historical proof of the idea of a sex strike to be successful in Greek antiquity due to the fact that not only were women found to be second-class but also that the men were homosexual and would have had no use for women for anything more than just reproductive reason. Lysistrata being a comedy there would be larger than life characters onstage but whenever there is a play written there is a bit of truth behind it, because theatre reflects society.

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