Homosexuality and Misogyny in Greek Life


Feminine equality and the need of a male female relationship, these two ideas are what many people believe in today’s society to have always been around since the beginning of time. But these people are wrong because both misogyny and homosexuality have been around for thousands of years and in this paper I intend to converse about homosexuality and misogyny in the time of Greek antiquity compared to how Aristophanes portrays it in Lysistrata. In this essay I will cover the topic of homosexuality and misogyny in the society of people in Greek antiquity. In the second half of the paper I will come out with some sections from the said play pointing out the topics of homosexuality and misogyny in the dialogue with my interpretation of what each one means.


Homosexuality is the liking of someone sexually or attracted to someone of the same sex. In Greek times “homosexuality and emphasis on idealized male beauty and strength were concurrent beliefs (Sacks 263). This is believed because of the fact that the penis was the major fertile icon. All types of fertility were taken from the women even as bearing the gods. In mythology Zeus’ penis was known as the womb for all other gods and goddesses. “When males in ancient Greece would come around puberty they would “become a man” by having relations not with women but with other male children” (Pratt). Athens in antiquity was a cultural center and with being a cultural center comes being replicated. By this I mean that other cities and other cultures might have mimicked what the men in Ancient Greece were doing. So the homoerotic nature of the males in Greece was not just found in Greece and it would be found elsewhere in the world. But because of the homoerotic lifestyle in Athens and ancient Greece Aristophanes might have been a bit far off with the idea of a woman’s sex strike being useful. Men at times not only would not partake in the pleasures of the female body but there was also misogyny.


Misogyny was born of the fear of women. It spawned the ideology of male superiority. “Misogyny was found in the everyday lives of the women of Ancient Greece. Women were second-class citizens at best and had no active involvement in society other than participation in religious activities. Their most important function was reproduction, to ensure heirs. They lived almost exclusively in the house, in separate quarters called the "women\'s chambers" (Sacks, 263). “Xenophon, a Greek writer, notes that women are weaker, less courageous, and more affectionate towards children. These qualities justify their inferior status in society” (Foley 1305). Women in Greek antiquity were stuck in this rut of being a weaker sex and of being a “second-class citizen” until “the fourth century, under the influence of their fathers and husbands, a few women rejected traditional roles and turned to the study of philosophy; the notion of marriage for the sake of children began to yield to an ideal of companionate union for mutual fulfillment. This development was resisted vigorously” (Katz 3). All of these things happen to the women in the fourth century, which comes much later than our Lysistrata author Aristophanes. The women of Aristophanes’ time were all still stuck under the misogyny of the time. One of the writers around the time of Aristophanes who was a well known author and probably influenced society was “Aristotle who states, the female body is more porous; their blood, like the old and the sick, is thicker; teeth are fewer and less effective; the muscles are weaker; the brain is smaller with fewer parts that allow the brain to breathe. Women are unable to control themselves when it comes to appetites and emotions, and are less capable of shame. Their nature makes them more apt to lie and deceive” (Foley 1305). All of the points that Aristotle makes in the above passage are fallacies. Which most if not all of them were mocked in Lysistrata.


Lysistrata by Aristophanes was written in 411 BC. Lysistrata the major female character in the play is heading up the protest to the war. “…we must do without sex altogether” (Klaus 115). This line in the play is the first time