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Aristophanes' ECCLESIAZUSAE (Women In Council) Complete

A Literal Translation, with Notes.

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INTRODUCTION

The 'Ecclesiazusae, or Women in Council,' was not produced till twenty years after the preceding play, the 'Thesmophoriazusae' (at the Great Dionysia of 392 B.C.), but is conveniently classed with it as being also largely levelled against the fair sex. "It is a broad, but very amusing, satire upon those ideal republics, founded upon communistic principles, of which Plato's well-known treatise is the best example. His 'Republic' had been written, and probably delivered in the form of oral lectures at Athens, only two or three years before, and had no doubt excited a considerable sensation. But many of its most startling principles had long ago been ventilated in the Schools."

Like the 'Lysistrata,' the play is a picture of woman's ascendancy in the State, and the topsy-turvy consequences resulting from such a reversal of ordinary conditions. The women of Athens, under the leadership of the wise Praxagora, resolve to reform the constitution. To this end they don men's clothes, and taking seats in the Assembly on the Pnyx, command a majority of votes and carry a series of revolutionary proposals--that the government be vested in a committee of women, and further, that property and women be henceforth held in common. The main part of the comedy deals with the many amusing difficulties that arise inevitably from this new state of affairs, the community of women above all necessitating special safeguarding clauses to secure the rights of the less attractive members of the sex to the service of the younger and handsomer men. Community of goods again, private property being abolished, calls for a regulation whereby all citizens are to dine at the public expense in the various public halls of the city, the particular place of each being determined by lot; and the drama winds up with one of these feasts, the elaborate menu of which is given in burlesque, and with the jubilations of the women over their triumph.

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