Note this entire site has moved to http://messagenetcommresearch.com. Please update your links to us to use this new web address. Thank you!
Greek Mythology > People, Places, & Things > Womans Assembly
U V W X Y Z
Ekklesiazusae (Ecclesiazusae); a comic play by Aristophanes produced in 392 BCE.
This is one of Aristophanes’ more ribald plays and might not be suitable for younger readers.
It seems that the women of the city of Athens have decided to kill the poet, Euripides, because of the demeaning way in which he portrays women in his plays; the women put Euripides in the same category as the accursed Persians and declare him an enemy of the state; Euripides persuades his father-in-law, Mnesilokhos (Mnesilochus), to dress like a woman and attend the Women’s Assembly in order to speak out on Euripides’ behalf; at first, Mnesilokhos speaks well for Euripides and seems to be generating some sympathy for the doomed poet but an informant arrives and tells the women that a male spy has invaded their assembly; it doesn’t take long for the women to deduce that the only woman to speak out for Euripides is the intruder.
At this point the play takes a unique turn; I have to admit that I was more than a little surprised when Mnesilokhos snatched up a baby from a woman in the assembly and threatened to kill it unless he was allowed to leave the hall unharmed; I won’t tell you how the situation is resolved but I will say that it’s scenes like this which demonstrate Aristophanes’ true comic genius.
After Mnesilokhos is taken prisoner and restrained, Euripides enters the scene to save his father-in-law from the wrath of the women; the comic banter between Mnesilokhos and Euripides is dialogue taken from Euripides’ tragedies and turned into farcical parodies.
Although the play mocks Euripides, there is an element of respect for his work laced throughout the puns and jokes; the net result of reading this play is that I wanted to read more plays by Euripides and Aristophanes.
Aristophanes’ plays are sometimes difficult to appreciate because he was a very contemporary poet, i.e. he was writing for the Athenian audience of his day; he would use puns, parody regional accents and speak directly to the audience in ways that force modern translators to seek out the contextual meaning rather than the literal meaning of the poet’s words; for that reason, I suggest that if you find a translation that is difficult to enjoy, please don’t blame Aristophanes, simply look for a translation that you can enjoy; when trying to find a readable translator, I suggest Patric Dickinson; you may find his books at your local library in the 882 section but his books are out of print and sometimes difficult to find.
Cut and paste the following text for use in a paper or electronic document report.
|Stewart, Michael. "People, Places & Things: Womans Assembly", Greek Mythology: From the Iliad to the Fall of the Last Tyrant. http://messagenetcommresearch.com/myths/ppt/Womans_Assembly_1.html|
Cut and paste the following html for use in a web report.
|Stewart, Michael. "People, Places & Things: Womans Assembly", <i>Greek Mythology: From the Iliad to the Fall of the Last Tyrant</i>. http://messagenetcommresearch.com/myths/ppt/Womans_Assembly_1.html|
Cut and paste the following html for use in a web report. This format will link back to this page, which may be useful but may not be required.
|Stewart, Michael. "People, Places & Things: Womans Assembly", <i>Greek Mythology: From the Iliad to the Fall of the Last Tyrant</i>. <a href="http://messagenetcommresearch.com/myths/ppt/Womans_Assembly_1.html">http://messagenetcommresearch.com/myths/ppt/Womans_Assembly_1.html</a>|
Original content Copyright 1996–2005 Michael Stewart. All Rights Reserved.
Website design and structure Copyright 2005 Michael Wiik
Site development and maintenance by Messagenet Communications Research