Sex can kill: gender inversion and the politics of subversion in Aristophanes’ Ecclesiazvsae

Tsoumpra, N. (2019) Sex can kill: gender inversion and the politics of subversion in Aristophanes’ Ecclesiazvsae. Classical Quarterly, 69(2), pp. 528-544. (doi: 10.1017/S0009838820000105)

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Abstract

Scholarship on Ecclesiazusae (as on Wealth) has been largely divided between those who are in favour of a fantastical/positive reading of the play and view it as a celebration of comic energy void of serious social critique, and those who argue for an ironic/satirical interpretation and deem Praxagora's plan as a spectacular failure. The unsuccessful realization of the new political programme is often regarded as a commentary on the state of democracy at the time. Other views are more affirmative of the democratic values of the play: Scholtz claims that the women in Ecclesiazusae succeed into putting into action Lysistrata's dream of a cohesive civic order, although, according to him, the play does not present ‘an unambiguously pro or contra viewpoint vis-à-vis gynaecocratic communalism’. Rothwell believes that the satire is directed against the greedy dēmos rather than against Praxagora's plan. He sees the persuasion exercised by women as ‘a benevolent and indispensable force in democracy’, and argues that the women of Ecclesiazusae, like the women in Lysistrata, strive to assure the continuity of the community; in his view, the play is about ‘the potential advantages of leadership in building a community’. Moodie also outright rejects a threatening or pessimistic reading, and makes the case that the audience is encouraged to take the women seriously as political actors owing to their unusual interaction with the audience and the rupture of dramatic illusion, which creates a rapport between the women and the audience. If the play is subversive, it is so only in its ‘non-satirical presentation of female leadership’.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Tsoumpra, Dr Natalia
Authors: Tsoumpra, N.
College/School:College of Arts > School of Humanities > Classics
Journal Name:Classical Quarterly
Publisher:Cambridge University Press
ISSN:0009-8388
ISSN (Online):1471-6844
Published Online:16 June 2020
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2020 The Classical Association
First Published:First published in Classical Quarterly 69(2):528-544
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy

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