Scene 2

(A MAGISTRATE enters.)

MAGISTRATE: What’s all this noise about? Is it the women, again, with their partying and their tambourines? I was in Assembly, the other day, and Demostratus was speaking, when I suddenly heard a woman shrieking “Woe, woe Adonis”! It was coming from above our heads! We climbed up, and we found Demostratus’ wife dancing up there, wailing about Adonis. “Alas, poor sweet Adonis!” No wonder Demostratus is always in a bad mood. Have you no shame, women?

LEADER (MEN): You don’t know the half of it, Lord Magistrate! They dumped water all over me, so now I’m totally soaked, and it looks like I can’t hold it in!

MAGISTRATE: It serves us right! We encourage them in their wantonness. Listen to what I heard a man say in the marketplace: “Jeweller,” he said, “you remember this trinket of my wife’s? Well, she was partying, last night, when a rod came loose and thrust straight through the hole. It went in, and it went out, again and again. I’m not sure what to do, because I’m leaving town, but maybe you could drop by and make sure that hole gets what it needs.” And another said to a shoemaker “My wife’s sandal pinches her. Maybe you can come by and open up her orifice a bit.” And now, see where all this has lead? Here I am, a Magistrate, come to purchase oar blades for our battleships, and I find the Treasury closed and the gates barred by these ridiculous women. Well, bring me a crowbar, and I’ll stop their insolence. What are you all gaping at? Are you looking for a tavern? Is that all you ever think of, drinking? Get me a crowbar, and I’ll pry these gates open.

(LYSISTRATA comes out.)

LYSISTRATA: Don’t bother with your crowbars, I’ll come out freely. You don’t need crowbars today, just common sense.

MAGISTRATE: Arrest her! Do you hear me? Tie her hands behind her back!

LYSISTRATA: By Artemis, if he touches me, he’ll regret it.

MAGISTRATE: What are you, afraid? Grab her round the waist, the two of you, and tie her up!

(CALONICE enters.)

CALONICE: Lay one hand on her, and I’ll knock you senseless.

MAGISTRATE: Grab that one first, she talks too much.

(MYRRHINA enters.)

MYRRHINA: If you so much as touch her, you’ll be needing a surgeon soon.

MAGISTRATE: What’s that you say? Grab this one too. I’ll put an end to this!

LEADER (WOMEN): By Artemis, if you get near her, I’ll pull your hairs out one by one!

MAGISTRATE: Are we going to be defeated by a mob of women? Come men, let’s close ranks and charge!

LYSISTRATA: Charge away. Inside there are four more battalions of us women, armed to the teeth and ready to fight!

MAGISTRATE: Advance, men, and capture them!

(The men advance.)

LYSISTRATA: Attack, staunch ladies, bold allies! Attack barmaids, attack baker women, attack my garlic sellers, my grain sellers, my egg sellers, slap them and insult them!

(The women rush out and beat back the men, using loaves of bread, strings of garlic, eggs, and kitchen utensils.)

Enough! No need for us to rob them blind, like corpses on a battlefield.

MAGISTRATE: How terrible for my men.

LYSISTRATA: Did you think it would be so easy to defeat a battalion of freeborn women? You think we feel no thirst for glory?

MAGISTRATE: I know you women are thirsty, but it’s usually for wine.

LEADER (MEN): Sir, why are you bothering to try to discuss things with these women? They are wild beasts! Don’t you see how they dumped water all over me?

LEADER (WOMEN): We wouldn’t have touched you, if you hadn’t come to attack us. I myself am nothing but a sweet young maiden, unless provoked. But when you stick your hand into a beehive, you have to expect to get stung!

CHORUS (MEN): Women are beasts! Women are beasts! They stole the Acropolis! Women are beasts!

LEADER (MEN): Ask them what they’re doing here. But don’t believe their answers. We need to get to the bottom of this.

MAGISTRATE: Why have you barred the gates?

LYSISTRATA: To keep you away from the money and put an end to this war.

MAGISTRATE: That’s what you think the war is about, money?

LYSISTRATA: That’s what every dispute is about, corrupt politicians trying to find a way to steal. Well, they’re not getting a single piece of silver out of here.

MAGISTRATE: How are you going to prevent them?

LYSISTRATA: We are the Treasurers now.


LYSISTRATA: Certainly. You don’t think we can do it? Don’t we manage the household finances?

MAGISTRATE: That’s different.

LYSISTRATA: In what way is it different?

MAGISTRATE: We need this money for the war.

LYSISTRATA: But you don’t need the war at all.

MAGISTRATE: Yes we do, it’s a matter of...

CHORUS (MEN): Security!

LYSISTRATA: We’ll keep you safe.


LYSISTRATA: Yes, we will!

MAGISTRATE: That’s absurd!

LYSISTRATA: We'll keep you safe, whether you like it or not.

MAGISTRATE: Impudent hussy!

LYSISTRATA: Yes, it’s terrible, I know. But that’s what we’re going to do.

MAGISTRATE: How shameful!

LYSISTRATA: Nonetheless, we’re saving you.

MAGISTRATE: What if I don’t want to be saved?

LYSISTRATA: All the more reason, then!

MAGISTRATE: What makes you think you can meddle in matters of war and peace?

LYSISTRATA: I’ll tell you.

MAGISTRATE: You had better tell me quickly, or else!

LYSISTRATA: Be quiet and behave yourself!

MAGISTRATE: That’s too much! You’re making me furious!

LEADER (WOMEN): You had better not get too angry, you’ll just regret it.

CHORUS (WOMEN): Dump water on him! Dump water on him!

MAGISTRATE: Shut up, you old hag! You speak, Lysistrata.

LYSISTRATA: With pleasure. I’ve been quiet for too long. All I’ve done recently is to sit at home, listening to my husband and the rest of you make mistakes and mismanage your affairs. When it got too much, when you were about to do something really foolish, I would just say “How did it go in the Assembly today, dear? Are we any closer to peace?” To which my husband would respond “What’s it to you? Hold your tongue!”

CALONICE: I didn’t hold mine!

MAGISTRATE: If you were my wife, you would have.

LYSISTRATA: As for me, I held my tongue. Soon you all would do something even more foolish and wrongheaded, and still I would say sweetly “My dear, don’t you think that last decree was just a little foolhardy?” And, in a vicious, angry mood, my husband would respond “Just go back to your weaving, if you know what’s good for you. War is for men and men only!”

MAGISTRATE: Exactly! Well put!

LYSISTRATA: When you make a mess out of everything, shouldn’t we give some helpful advice? But it got worse. Now, we hear you all complaining in the streets. “There’s not a man left to defend us,” one man says. “No, what’s happened to everyone?” says another. That’s when we got together and decided to start changing things. And you would be wise to shut up and listen, this time, if you want us to save you.

MAGISTRATE: You will save us? What a horrible, shameful suggestion.

LYSISTRATA: Be silent!

MAGISTRATE: Don’t order me about, woman!

LYSISTRATA: Then go ahead and die, you will soon enough, on the path you’re taking. You’re rich, you can buy yourself a nice funeral bier. I’ll bake you a funeral cake, if you like.

MYRRHINA: You can borrow two coins from the treasury, one for each eye.

CALONICE: And here are some pretty garlands for your hair.

LYSISTRATA: What else do you need? Hurry up, Charon is waiting for you.

MAGISTRATE: I’ve never been treated so poorly! How insulting! I will show myself to the other magistrates, flowers and all, and we’ll see what they say.

(MAGISTRATE storms away, while LYSISTRATA calls after him.)

LYSISTRATA: I’m sorry, you’re right, we forgot to lay you out for three days, as befits your position. Don’t worry, though, we’ll make a sacrifice in your esteemed memory, first thing tomorrow.

(LYSISTRATA goes back inside, with CALONICE and MYRRHINA.)

© Edward Einhorn 2015