Gender Roles in Lysistrata and Medea

1651 Words Sep 21st, 2005 7 Pages
Between 500 and 400 BC, Athens was shining light of civilization, brightening the dark world around it. Yet in this glimmering metropolis of democracy and reason, an indelible line divided the men from the women and the Athenian citizens for non-citizens. Only male citizens were able to take part in Athenian politics, and therefore able to affect change, while Athenian women were bound to the seclusion of their homes where they were allowed only to talk to their family and other women. While Greek men gained their honor and prestige from doing well in battle, and speaking well at the assembly, women seemed to acquire their honor and achieve moral excellence by birthing boys who then become men who could then gain honor in battle. …show more content…
It may be true that public sentiment of a woman's place may be summed up by Lysistrata's story: "Well, for my part, I would say no more. But presently I would come to know you had arrived at some fresh decision more fatally foolish than ever. ‘Ah! My dear man,' I would say, ‘what madness next!' But [my husband] would only look at me askance and say: ‘Just weave your web, please; else your cheeks will smart for hours. War is men's business.'" However, Aristophanes shows that privately men did realize that even though women may hold no official power, their ability to manipulate a man to do their bidding is great indeed. And they did so cunningly with what little power Athenian men afforded them.
Euripides' Medea, written in 431 BC focuses on the title character, Medea. Unlike Aristophanes' title character, Medea shows the true power of a Greek woman by rejecting her gender role. Before the play even begins she is seen as a powerful woman. She is the wife of famed Greek Jason, and is the reason that Jason is still alive. When speaking to Jason, Medea says, "I saved your life – every Greek who sailed with you on board that ship the Argo can confirm it – when you'd been sent to bring under the yoke the fire-breathing bulls, and then to sow the fields of death. And I killed the dragon guarding the Golden Fleece….I left my
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