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Unread 12-15-2018, 07:46 PM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
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Default Reconciliation

"Lysistrata," 1108--1161

Chorus-Leader: (to Lysistrata)
Greetings to you, most manly of women.
It’s time for you to be clever and gentle,
classy and trashy, severe and sweet—
in sum, a universal lady.
Seduced by the power of your amorous magic,
important men have gathered together
from all over Greece to lay their many
disputes before your arbitration.

Lysistrata: (to the Chorus-Leader)
They’re not so hard to manage if you catch them
when they are aroused and not attacking
one another. Well, we’ll find out soon.
Where is Reconciliation?

(Reconciliation, a voluptuous female in a sheer gown, enters from a stage-door.)

(to Reconciliation)
Where is Reconciliation? Go
and bring those Spartans over here by me.
Do not be rough or overbearing with them
or paw them boorishly the way our husbands
have handled us, but touch them like a woman—
domestically. If he won’t offer up
his hand, you’ll have to grab him by the dick.
Now go get those Athenians as well.
Take hold of what they offer up and drag them
over here.

(to the Spartans and Athenians)

over here. You Spartans stand right here
beside me; you Athenians, right here.
Now listen to my words: I am a woman,
yes, but I have a brain. Although I’ve got
plenty of intellect in my own right,
I’ve also listened frequently to what
my father and his friends were talking over,
so I’ve become quite educated, too.
Now that I have you here, I want to scold you,
both sides, in common, as is only just.

Both Spartans and Athenians, like kinsmen,
sprinkle the altars from a single bowl
of sacred water at Olympia,
at Pytho, at Thermopylae—how many
other places could I add to make
the list still longer? But, though there are foreign
enemies out there with their armies, you
wage war against Greek men and towns in Greece.
One point, my first, has now been driven home.

Athenian Delegate:
My dick’s about to burst out of its skin!

Lysistrata: (to the Spartans)
Next, Spartans, I will turn my words on you.
Have you forgot how Pericleidas came
and, though a Spartan, sat him down upon
a shrine in Athens as a suppliant,
a pale man in a vivid red cloak, begging
for military aid. Your subject state
Messenia had attacked you, and Poseidon
had shocked you with a quake. Our Cimon took
four thousand infantry and saved all Sparta.
Since you have received such benefits
from the Athenians, why do you Spartans
ravage the land that treated you so well?

Athenian Delegate:
They’ve done us an injustice, Lysistrata!

Spartan Delegate:
We sho’ did.

(looking at Reconciliation’s behind)

We sho’ did. Dang, she's got a luscious ass.

Lysistrata: (to the Athenians)
Oh, don’t assume that I’ll be letting you
Athenians off scot-free. Don’t you remember,
when you were dressed in sheep-skin clothes like slaves,
how Spartans showed up with their spears and killed
many Thessalian men and many allies
and friends of Hippias as well? That day
they were the only ones that helped you drive
the tyrant out. Don’t you remember how
they freed you, how they helped you change from sheepskins
to popular attire, the people’s cloaks?

Spartan Ambassador: (gawking at Reconciliation)
Me, I never seen a finer woman.

Athenian Ambassador: (looking at Reconciliation’s crotch)
And me, I’ve never seen a finer pussy.

You’ve done so many favors for each other.
Why are you fighting? Why not put an end
to all this turmoil? Why not make a peace?
Come on, what’s stopping you?

. . . . .
The original Greek

Link to online Greek text: 72

χαῖρ᾽ ὦ πασῶν ἀνδρειοτάτη: δεῖ δὴ νυνί σε γενέσθαι
δεινὴν δειλὴν ἀγαθὴν φαύλην σεμνὴν ἀγανὴν πολύπειρον:
1110ὡς οἱ πρῶτοι τῶν Ἑλλήνων τῇ σῇ ληφθέντες ἴυγγι
συνεχώρησάν σοι καὶ κοινῇ τἀγκλήματα πάντ᾽ ἐπέτρεψαν.

ἀλλ᾽ οὐχὶ χαλεπὸν τοὔργον, εἰ λάβοι γέ τις
ὀργῶντας ἀλλήλων τε μὴ 'κπειρωμένους.
τάχα δ᾽ εἴσομαι 'γώ. ποῦ 'στιν ἡ Διαλλαγή;
1115πρόσαγε λαβοῦσα πρῶτα τοὺς Λακωνικούς,
καὶ μὴ χαλεπῇ τῇ χειρὶ μηδ᾽ αὐθαδικῇ,
μηδ᾽ ὥσπερ ἡμῶν ἅνδρες ἀμαθῶς τοῦτ᾽ ἔδρων,
ἀλλ᾽ ὡς γυναῖκας εἰκός, οἰκείως πάνυ,
ἢν μὴ διδῷ τὴν χεῖρα, τῆς σάθης ἄγε.
1120ἴθι καὶ σὺ τούτους τοὺς Ἀθηναίους ἄγε,
οὗ δ᾽ ἂν διδῶσι πρόσαγε τούτους λαβομένη.
ἄνδρες Λάκωνες στῆτε παρ᾽ ἐμὲ πλησίον,
ἐνθένδε δ᾽ ὑμεῖς, καὶ λόγων ἀκούσατε.
ἐγὼ γυνὴ μέν εἰμι, νοῦς δ᾽ ἔνεστί μοι,
1125αὐτὴ δ᾽ ἐμαυτῆς οὐ κακῶς γνώμης ἔχω,
τοὺς δ᾽ ἐκ πατρός τε καὶ γεραιτέρων λόγους
πολλοὺς ἀκούσασ᾽ οὐ μεμούσωμαι κακῶς.
λαβοῦσα δ᾽ ὑμᾶς λοιδορῆσαι βούλομαι
κοινῇ δικαίως, οἳ μιᾶς ἐκ χέρνιβος
1130βωμοὺς περιρραίνοντες ὥσπερ ξυγγενεῖς
Ὀλυμπίασιν, ἐν Πύλαις, Πυθοῖ (πόσους
εἴποιμ᾽ ἂν ἄλλους, εἴ με μηκύνειν δέοι;)
ἐχθρῶν παρόντων βαρβάρων στρατεύματι
Ἕλληνας ἄνδρας καὶ πόλεις ἀπόλλυτε.
1135εἷς μὲν λόγος μοι δεῦρ᾽ ἀεὶ περαίνεται.

ἐγὼ δ᾽ ἀπόλλυμαί γ᾽ ἀπεψωλημένος.

εἶτ᾽ ὦ Λάκωνες, πρὸς γὰρ ὑμᾶς τρέψομαι,
οὐκ ἴσθ᾽ ὅτ᾽ ἐλθὼν δεῦρο Περικλείδας ποτὲ
ὁ Λάκων Ἀθηναίων ἱκέτης καθέζετο
1140ἐπὶ τοῖσι βωμοῖς ὠχρὸς ἐν φοινικίδι
στρατιὰν προσαιτῶν; ἡ δὲ Μεσσήνη τότε
ὑμῖν ἐπέκειτο χὠ θεὸς σείων ἅμα.
ἐλθὼν δὲ σὺν ὁπλίταισι τετρακισχιλίοις
Κίμων ὅλην ἔσωσε τὴν Λακεδαίμονα.
1145ταυτὶ παθόντες τῶν Ἀθηναίων ὕπο
δῃοῦτε χώραν, ἧς ὑπ᾽ εὖ πεπόνθατε;

ἀδικοῦσιν οὗτοι νὴ Δί᾽ ὦ Λυσιστράτη.

ἀδικίομες: ἀλλ᾽ ὁ πρωκτὸς ἄφατον ὡς καλός.

ὑμᾶς δ᾽ ἀφήσειν τοὺς Ἀθηναίους μ᾽ οἴει;
1150οὐκ ἴσθ᾽ ὅθ᾽ ὑμᾶς οἱ Λάκωνες αὖθις αὖ
κατωνάκας φοροῦντας ἐλθόντες δορὶ
πολλοὺς μὲν ἄνδρας Θετταλῶν ἀπώλεσαν,
πολλοὺς δ᾽ ἑταίρους Ἱππίου καὶ ξυμμάχους,
ξυνεκμαχοῦντες τῇ τόθ᾽ ἡμέρᾳ μόνοι,
1155κἠλευθέρωσαν κἀντὶ τῆς κατωνάκης
τὸν δῆμον ὑμῶν χλαῖναν ἠμπέσχον πάλιν;

οὔπα γυναῖκ᾽ ὄπωπα χαϊωτεραν.

ἐγὼ δὲ κύσθον γ᾽ οὐδέπω καλλίονα.

τί δῆθ᾽ υπηργμένων γε πολλῶν κἀγαθῶν
1160μάχεσθε κοὐ παύεσθε τῆς μοχθηρίας;
τί δ᾽ οὐ διηλλάγητε; φέρε τί τοὐμποδών;
. . . . .

Translation by Jack Lindsay

Hail, Wonder of all women! Now you must be in turn
Hard, shifting, clear, deceitful, noble, crafty, sweet, and stern.
The foremost men of Hellas, smitten by your fascination,
Have brought their tangled quarrels here for your sole arbitration.

An easy task if the love's raging home-sickness
Doesn't start trying out how well each other
Will serve instead of us. But I'll know at once
If they do. O where's that girl, Reconciliation?
Bring first before me the Spartan delegates,
And see you lift no rude or violent hands—
None of the churlish ways our husbands used.
But lead them courteously, as women should.
And if they grudge fingers, guide them by other methods,
And introduce them with ready tact. The Athenians
Draw by whatever offers you a grip.
Now, Spartans, stay here facing me. Here you,
Athenians. Both hearken to my words.
I am a woman, but I'm not a fool.
And what of natural intelligence I own
Has been filled out with the remembered precepts
My father and the city-elders taught me.
First I reproach you both sides equally
That when at Pylae and Olympia,
At Pytho and the many other shrines
That I could name, you sprinkle from one cup
The altars common to all Hellenes, yet
You wrack Hellenic cities, bloody Hellas
With deaths of her own sons, while yonder clangs
The gathering menace of barbarians.

We cannot hold it in much longer now.

Now unto you, O Spartans, do I speak.
Do you forget how your own countryman,
Pericleidas, once came hither suppliant
Before our altars, pale in his purple robes,
Praying for an army when in Messenia
Danger growled, and the Sea-god made earth quayer.
Then with four thousand hoplites Cimon marched
And saved all Sparta. Yet base ingrates now,
You are ravaging the soil of your preservers.

By Zeus, they do great wrong, Lysistrata.

Great wrang, indeed. O! What a luscious wench!

And now I turn to the Athenians.
Have you forgotten too how once the Spartans
In days when you wore slavish tunics, came
And with their spears broke a Thessalian host
And all the partisans of Hippias?
They alone stood by your shoulder on that day.
They freed you, so that for the slave's short skirt
You should wear the trailing cloak of liberty.

I've never seen a nobler woman anywhere.

Nor I one with such prettily jointing hips.

Now, brethren twined with mutual benefactions,
Can you still war, can you suffer such disgrace?
Why not be friends? What is there to prevent you?

Last edited by Aaron Poochigian; 12-15-2018 at 11:26 PM.
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Unread 12-21-2018, 05:54 PM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
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Aaron, I am amazed at this translation. Your version of this passage is clearly the best.
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Unread 12-21-2018, 05:55 PM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
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(Blushing) Garsh!
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Unread 12-22-2018, 01:54 AM
Julie Steiner's Avatar
Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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I really shouldn't try to talk about sex in poetry. I always say something ridiculously clueless. Oh, well.

I thought there might be some ethnic dig in Aristophanes having the Spartans admire the young woman's anus ( πρωκτός, root of our word "proctologist"), but it seems that the word can include "generally, the hinder parts" as well. So I guess "ass" is okay.

I didn't think Aristophanes would have Athenians admire young Reconciliation's "pussy," but he did. Huh. That still seems strange to me--not because it's crude (this is, after all, Aristophanes, and he's been crude all along), but because, with few exceptions, Greek statues and paintings of nude women tend to have the actual genitalia completely censored. Barely a hint of a cleft, and certainly no awkward dangly bits. The beauty of female genitalia is rather unappreciated in Ancient Greek culture, especially when contrasted with the deification of the phallus. But maybe that's the point here--these men are so desperate for relief that even body parts that most Greek artists seemed determined to pretend didn't exist were now considered incredibly beautiful. (Then again, in this play women are asserting their power, both politically and sexually, and the men must recognize and respect both kinds of female power, at least temporarily.)

The one quibble I couldn't resolve in this section involves the κατωνάκας, which you have translated as "sheepskin clothes like slaves." The point isn't that these garments were made of sheepskin, since the sheepskin seems to have been only a border, anyway. The important thing is what this uniform signified, as it was the clothing of slaves and other laborers. Simplifying this to something like "slaves' clothing" would be a more streamlined way to make the point and move on.
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Unread 12-22-2018, 04:42 AM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
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Julie, thank you for commenting. The Athenian stereotype about the Spartans is that Spartan males always prefer anal (both with females and males). That's the joke--the Spartan is only interested in Reconciliation's ass. Yes, "pussy" for "kysthos" (pudenda muliebria). You are right--fully nude female statues don't come into vogue until the Aphrodite of Cnidus, but Aristophanes is in a different (lower) register than statuary. The question, as I see it, is how to translate "kysthos". "Pussy" works best, I think. "Vaginer" or "twat," though tempting, aren't right. "Snatch" is the opposite of what is needed there.

I will consult commentators on the sheep-skin fringed garments of slaves and get back to you on that.

Thanks again for commenting,


Last edited by Aaron Poochigian; 12-22-2018 at 04:53 AM.
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Unread 12-22-2018, 09:21 AM
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Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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Thanks, Aaron. I hadn't realized that nude female statuary (which, as you point out, was temple-related, so there were reasons for censorship other than disgust) was unknown until well after Aristophanes' time.
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Unread 12-22-2018, 09:34 AM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
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I'll take any opportunity to talk about the "Aphrodite of Cnidus:"
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