Undressing and cross-dressing: costume, ritual, and female empowerment in Aristophanes

Tsoumpra, N. (2020) Undressing and cross-dressing: costume, ritual, and female empowerment in Aristophanes. Illinois Classical Studies, 45(2), pp. 368-398. (doi: 10.5406/illiclasstud.45.2.0368)

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Abstract

This article argues that the abuse of costume by the women in Lysistrata and Ecclesiazusae displays their dominance over the men while underscoring their femininity. This is particularly important in a genre where women in power are commonly viewed as masculine or androgynous. Furthermore, the use of costume reflects fundamental concerns about female power in each fictional type of gynecocracy. In Lysistrata the handling of costume alludes to ritualistic practices which emphasize the women’s (positive) contribution to civic welfare, and articulates the women’s efforts towards the restoration of the institution of marriage and the former (male) political order. Conversely, in Ecclesiazusae the mutual cross-dressing highlights the men’s impotence and sterility, and reflects the consequences of the abolition of marriage and the subversion of the male order.

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:Illinois Classical Studies
Publisher:University of Illinois Press
ISSN:0363-1923
ISSN (Online):2328-5265

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