Ancient Mysteries Mythology Lysistrata : The Nude Goddess

Lysistrata : The Nude Goddess

Lysistrata : The Nude Goddess
Catalog # SKU1835
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 1.00 lbs
Author Name Aristophanes


The Nude Goddess

Two Complete Translations
In One Volume

Translated from the Greek of

Lysistrata is the greatest work by Aristophanes. This blank and rash statement is made that it may be rejected. But first let it be understood that I do not mean it is a better written work than the Birds or the Frogs, or that (to descend to the scale of values that will be naturally imputed to me) it has any more appeal to the collectors of "curious literature" than the Ecclesiazusae or the Thesmophoriazusae. On the mere grounds of taste I can see an at least equally good case made out for the Birds.

From the Introduction

That brightly plumaged fantasy has an aerial wit and colour all its own. But there are certain works in which a man finds himself at an angle of vision where there is an especially felicitous union of the aesthetic and emotional elements which constitute the basic qualities of his uniqueness. We recognize these works as being welded into a strange unity, as having a homogeneous texture of ecstasy over them that surpasses any aesthetic surface of harmonic colour, though that harmony also is understood by the deeper welling of imagery from the core of creative exaltation. And I think that this occurs in Lysistrata.

The intellectual and spiritual tendrils of the poem are more truly interwoven, the operation of their centres more nearly unified; and so the work goes deeper into life. It is his greatest play because of this, because it holds an intimate perfume of femininity and gives the finest sense of the charm of a cluster of girls, the sweet sense of their chatter, and the contact of their bodies, that is to be found before Shakespeare, because that mocking gaiety we call Aristophanies reaches here its most positive acclamation of life, vitalizing sex with a deep delight, a rare happiness of the spirit.

Indeed it is precisely for these reasons that it is not considered Aristophanes' greatest play.

It is the very subtlety of the vitality of such works as Antony and Cleopatra and Lysistrata that makes it so easy to undervalue them, to see only a phallic play and political pamphlet in one, only a chronicle play in a grandiose method in the other. For we have to be in a highly sensitized condition before we can get to that subtle point where life and the image mix, and so really perceive the work at all; whereas we can command the response to a lesser work which does not call so finely on the full breadth and depth of our spiritual resources.

I amuse myself at times with the fancy that Homer, Sappho, and Aristophanes are the inviolable Trinity of poetry, even to the extent of being reducible to One. For the fiery and lucid directness of Sappho, if her note of personal lyricism is abstracted, is seen to be an element of Homer, as is the profoundly balanced humour of Aristophanes, at once tenderly human and cruelly hard, as of a god to whom all sympathies and tolerances are known, but who is invulnerable somewhere, who sees from a point in space where the pressure of earth's fear and pain, and so its pity, is lifted. It is here that the Shakespearean and Homeric worlds impinge and merge, not to be separated by any academic classifications.

They meet in this sensitivity equally involved and aloof, sympathetic and arrogant, suffering and joyous; and in this relation we see Aristophanes as the forerunner of Shakespeare, his only one. We see also that the whole present aesthetic of earth is based in Homer. We live and grow in the world of consciousness bequeathed to us by him; and if we grow beyond it through deeper Shakespearean ardours, it is because those beyond are rooted in the broad basis of the Homeric imagination.

To shift that basis is to find the marshes of primitive night and fear alone beneath the feet: Christianity.

And here we return to the question of the immorality of Lysistrata.


   O please give me the fire instead.

   Lewd to the least drop in the tiniest vein,
   Our sex is fitly food for Tragic Poets,
   Our whole life's but a pile of kisses and babies.
   But, hardy Spartan, if you join with me
   All may be righted yet. O help me, help me.

   It's a sair, sair thing to ask of us, by the Twa,
   A lass to sleep her lane and never fill
   Love's lack except wi' makeshifts.... But let it be.
   Peace maun be thought of first.

   My friend, my friend!
   The only one amid this herd of weaklings.

   But if--which heaven forbid--we should refrain
   As you would have us, how is Peace induced?

   By the two Goddesses, now can't you see
   All we have to do is idly sit indoors
   With smooth roses powdered on our cheeks,
   Our bodies burning naked through the folds
   Of shining Amorgos' silk, and meet the men
   With our dear Venus-plats plucked trim and neat.
   Their stirring love will rise up furiously,
   They'll beg our arms to open. That's our time!
   We'll disregard their knocking, beat them off--
   And they will soon be rabid for a Peace.
   I'm sure of it.

   Just as Menelaus, they say,
   Seeing the bosom of his naked Helen
   Flang down the sword.

    But we'll be tearful fools
   If our husbands take us at our word and leave us.

   There's only left then, in Pherecrates' phrase,
   To flay a skinned dog--flay more our flayed desires.

Softcover, 8½" x 7", 145+ pages
Perfect-Bound- Illustrated