Costume, Ritual, and Female Empowerment in Aristophanes᾽ Lysistrata and Ecclesiazusae
Time & Location
About the Event
In this talk Dr Tsoumpra examines the (ab)use of costume by the women in Aristophanes’ Lysistrata and Ecclesiazusae, and she argues that it reflects fundamental concerns about female power in each fictional type of gynaecocracy. In Lysistrata the handling of costume alludes to ritualistic practices which emphasize the women’s positive contribution to civic welfare, and articulates the women’s efforts towards the restoration of the institution of marriage and the former male political order. Conversely, in Ecclesiazusae the mutual cross-dressing highlights the men’s impotence and sterility, and reflects the consequences of the abolition of marriage and the subversion of the male order. In both plays the women’s dominance over the men is effected through costume control. Yet while costume failure is associated with feminization, costume mastery does not bring about the masculinization of women. This is particularly important in a genre where women in power are commonly viewed as masculine or androgynous.
Dr Natalia Tsoumpra is Lecturer in Classics at Glasgow University