Three Plays by Aristophanes: Staging Women, 2nd Edition (Hardback) book cover

Three Plays by Aristophanes

Staging Women, 2nd Edition

By Jeffrey Henderson


258 pages

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These three plays by the great comic playwright Aristophanes (c. 446-386 BCE), the well-known Lysistrata, and the less familiar Women at the Thesmophoria and Assemblywomen, are the earliest surviving portrayals of contemporary women in the European literary tradition. These plays provide a unique glimpse of women not only in their familiar domestic roles but also in relation to household and city, religion and government, war and peace, theater and festival, and, of course, to men.

This freshly revised edition presents, for the first time in a single volume, all three plays in faithful modern translations that preserve intact Aristophanes’ blunt and often obscene language, sparkling satire, political provocation, and beguiling fantasy. Alongside the translations are ample introductions and notes covering the politically engaged genre of Aristophanic comedy in general and issues of sex and gender in particular, which have been fully updated since the first edition in light of recent scholarship. An appendix contains fragments of lost plays of Aristophanes that also featured women, and an up-to-date bibliography provides guidance for further exploration.

In addition to their timeless humor and biting satire, the plays are unique and invaluable documents in the history of western sexuality and gender, and they offer strikingly prescient speculations about the social and political future of the female sex.


"The translations of the three plays, Lysistrata, Women at the Thesmophoria, and Assemblywomen, are straightforward, reliable, and fun to read. Readers interested in women's history and gender studies will especially welcome Henderson's contribution to their fields

." -- Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Table of Contents

Introduction I. Aristophanes II. Old Comedy: Production and Competition III. Performance IV. Women in Aristophanic Comedy V. Notes on the Translation Lysistrata Introduction 1. The Historical Context 2. The Play Women at the Thesmophoria Introduction 1. The Play 2. Gender Transgression and Thesmophoria 3. Genre Transgression and the Theater Assemblywomen Introduction 1. The Historical Context 2. The Women Take Power Appendix: Selected Fragments of Lost Plays Notes Bibliography

About the Author

Jeffrey Henderson is Professor of Classical Studies at Boston University. He is the author of The Maculate Muse: Obscene Language in Attic Comedy and a critical edition, with commentary, of Aristophanes' Lysistrata, as well as numerous essays and articles on Aristophanes, Old Comedy and its social and historical background.

About the Series

The New Classical Canon

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Ancient / General