Abstract

In this paper I argue that the sexually active wives of Aristophanes' Lysistrata are progressively "hetairized"—transformed into comic hetairai—by means of distinctly sympotic visual imagery and linguistic innuendo.

After a brief discussion of the late fifth-century dramatic "problem" inherent in the sex-trading wife, I turn to the pan-Hellenic oath (193-237). The language of this oath, evocative of the imagery of red-figure sympotic vessels, initiates the women into the sphere of sympotic and hetairic activity. Next, I review the transaction scene between Myrrhine and her husband, Kinesias (847-64, 929-34). I argue that this scene, long recognized as "reminiscent" of brothel negotiations, picks up on the innuendo of the oath and puts it to the test with the bawdy language that likely marked a more typical representation of the comic hetaira. Finally, I suggest that both the "hetairization" and the theme of extra-domestic female activity are brought to an end with the coarse physical division of the silent (and "non-wifely") Diallage (1108-21). In a manipulation of the slippage between wife and non-wife—between sex and politics—the sharable Diallage incites her "customers" to transfer their sexual appetites toward a civic goal.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1080-6504
Print ISSN
0004-0975
Pages
pp. 37-73
Launched on MUSE
2004-05-14
Open Access
No
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