Aristophanes, Gender and Sexuality

Robson, James (2016). Aristophanes, Gender and Sexuality. In: Walsh, Philip ed. Brill's Companion to the Reception of Aristophanes. Brill's Companions to Classical Reception. Leiden and Boston: Brill, pp. 44–66.


An account of the reception of Aristophanes' Lysistrata from the nineteenth through to the twenty-first centuries in terms of gender and sexuality. Particular attention is given to the push and pull of its 'adult content'; its ability to be exploited as a 'sexy' play; and its potential for exploring gender politics. While other cultural traditions and time periods are touched on, too, the focus of this chapter is on the Anglophone reception of Aristophanes -- in translations, adaptations, on the page, on stage and on screen. The piece aims to paint a broad picture of historical developments while examining a series of important case-studies. The first section charts the changing treatment of Aristophanes’ sexualized and obscene language. The second section looks at the ways in which those staging and adapting the plays have explored and exploited female sex and sexuality. Finally, the third section examines Lysistrata’s legacy, with particular regard not only to how it has been staged as feminist play, but also to how feminism -- seen through the lens of Lysistrata -- has come to be aligned with pacifist and anti-establishment stances.

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