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Comparison between the depiction of war in the Iliad and in Lysistrata

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Possibly two of the most well-known Greek literary pieces in the world are The Iliad and Lysistrata. The Iliad is a poem written by Homer, who is one of the most prominent Greek poets, while the Lysistrata is a comical play written by Aristophanes, a Greek dramatist. The Iliad portrays the tenth and last year of the invasion of Troy by the Greek army called the Achaeans. On the other hand, the Lysistrata is a comedy that depicts the efforts of the all the women of Greece to end the Peloponnesian war through refusing to have sexual intercourse with the men. Both plays have a lot of similarities and differences particularly in their depiction of war.

            One of the notable similarities between the Iliad and the Lysistrata is that both depict a war between two factions. In the Iliad, the two factions at war are the Greeks (the Achaeans), and the Trojans. On the other hand, the Lysistrata, involves a dispute between the men and women of Greece, which was led by Lysistrata.  Moreover, the wars in the two Greek literary works both involve heroes. In the Iliad, the central figure is Achilles, who is considered as the strongest Achaean warrior while on the side of the Trojans, Hector is the central character and hero. In contrast, in the Lysistrata, the central figure is a woman named Lysistrata.

            While the both plays have similarities, they also have various differences in their depiction of war. One notable difference in the depiction of war between the two Greek works is the mood. In the Iliad, the mood is both glorious and tragic as it involved the death of several heroes as wells as triumphs in a number of battles on both sides. In addition, in the Iliad, it is shown that the Trojans and the Achaeans are not the only ones at war but the Greeks Gods and Goddesses as well. This is shown when Ares, the Greek god of war, returned to Olympus after being wounded and said “We everlasting gods . . .

Ah what chilling blows we suffer—thanks to our own conflicting wills—whenever we show these mortal men some kindness.” In short, the Iliad portrayed a war that had several internal conflicts among figures, especially leaders, even if they are on the same side. On the other hand, in the Lysistrata, the almost the mood is mostly light and comical, although there is not really a war but rather a conflict. In addition, since the Lysistrata is a play, the conflict between the men and the women is sung as shown in the lines of the Chorus of Men and the Chorus of Women.

            However, possibly the most notable difference between the two is the meaning of war for the main characters in both plays. For the characters In the Iliad, war is not only waged for honor and glory, but also for immortality. This is best illustrated by Achilles in book 9 of the poem when he said “If I hold out here and I lay siege to Troy, my journey home is gone, but my glory never dies. If I voyage back to the fatherland I love, my pride, my glory dies.” In other words, in the Iliad, war was depicted as pathway to immortality.

            On the other hand, in the Lysistrata, war was depicted as despicable and detestable which was shown by the women who refused to have sex with the men unless they cease fighting in the Peloponnesian war. Based on the play the main reason that the women do not favor the war is because they are left alone by their husbands who all join the war. This is shown in the dialogue between the Magistrate and Lysistrata wherein the latter said “instead of enjoying the pleasures of love and making the best of our youth and beauty, we are left to languish far from our husbands, who are all with the army.

But say no more of ourselves; what afflicts me is to see our girls growing old in lonely grief.” In short, throughout the entire play, the war was clearly depicted as unfavorable, especially to the women, unlike in the Iliad. In summary, while both Greek literary works portray a conflict between two sides, they depicted war differently. In the Iliad, the war was illustrated as a way for people to immortalize themselves while in the Lysistrata, the war was depicted as harmful to people, especially women.

Works Cited

“The Lysistrata.” 2008. The EServer Drama Collection. 2 April 2008 <http://drama.eserver.org/plays/classical/aristophanes/lysistrata.txt>.

“The Iliad.” 2000. The Internet Classics Archive. 2 April 2008 <http://classics.mit.edu/Homer/iliad.html>.

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