“He Said Some Other Nice Things About Women”: Reading Aristophanes’ “Assemblywomen” Online

Aristophanes, Assemblywomen 454-456

“He said a lot of other nice things about women too
That they don’t betray people or sue them
That they don’t overthrow democracy, and many other good things too.”

ἕτερά τε πλεῖστα τὰς γυναῖκας ηὐλόγει·
οὐ συκοφαντεῖν, οὐ διώκειν, οὐδὲ τὸν
δῆμον καταλύειν, ἄλλα πολλὰ κἀγαθά.

The Center for Hellenic Studies , the Kosmos Society and Out of Chaos Theatre has been presenting scenes from Greek tragedy on the ‘small screen’ since the beginning of the US lockdown in March. As our director Paul O’Mahony has put it, since we are “unable to explore the outside world, we have no option but to explore further the inner one.

This weekend in the spirit of everything horrifying and electoral, we bring you a break from the normal routine: tragedy on Wednesdays, but comedy tonight! Aristophanes’ Assemblywomen (Ekklesiazusai) was performed in 391 BCE in critique of the Athenian government. It has everything a good Old Comedy should: surprisingly ribald sex jokes and a run of flatulence and defecation humor any grown-up toddler could love.

Despite the less-than-elevated content of the play, this comedy is not for the young or the light-hearted. The basic premise–that women take over the state to run it better than the men–weaponizes misogyny to criticize the running of the state. So, Aristophanes uses the worst ridicule of women to highlight the absurdity and danger of Athenian politics. Sticks and stones may break your bones, but Aristophanes is going to crush them.

This performance will bring the majority of the play to the virtual stage with tricks, gags, and a slight softening of the play’s more hateful tendencies. Come for the fart-jokes but stay for the political resonance as we all hope desperately for something to change

Aristophanes, Assemblywomen 320

“Oh, where could a man manage to shit in private?”

ἀλλ᾿ ἐν καθαρῷ ποῦ ποῦ τις ἂν χέσας τύχοι;

Scenes (George Theodoridis’ translation.)

Just wait and see!

Aristophanes, Assemblywomen 210-212

“I say that we give the rule of our state
Over to the women. For we already trust them
As guards and managers in our homes.”

ταῖς γὰρ γυναιξὶ φημὶ χρῆναι τὴν πόλιν
ἡμᾶς παραδοῦναι. καὶ γὰρ ἐν ταῖς οἰκίαις
ταύταις ἐπιτρόποις καὶ ταμίαισι χρώμεθα.


Praxagora – Vivien Carter
First Women/Mrs Lush – Jessica Toltzis
Second Women/ Mrs Generous – Tamieka Chavis
Third Women/ Mrs Happy – Ursula Early
Belpyrus – Paul Westwood
Neighbour – Kyle Stockburger
Chremes – Paul O’Mahony
Maid – Noree Victoria
Chorus – Lanah Koelle
Special Guest, Francisco Barrenechea

Aristophanes, Assemblywomen 173-179

“My share of this country is equal to yours.
I am worn down and annoyed
By how this state’s affairs are going.
I watch as we always choose scoundrels
As leaders. Even if one turns out good for a day
Then he’s downright corrupt for another ten.
Then we trust another? He makes our suffering worse.

ἐμοὶ δ᾿ ἴσον μὲν τῆσδε τῆς χώρας μέτα
ὅσονπερ ὑμῖν· ἄχθομαι δὲ καὶ φέρω
τὰ τῆς πόλεως ἅπαντα βαρέως πράγματα.
ὁρῶ γὰρ αὐτὴν προστάταισι χρωμένην
ἀεὶ πονηροῖς. κἄν τις ἡμέραν μίαν
χρηστὸς γένηται, δέκα πονηρὸς γίγνεται.
ἐπέτρεψας ἑτέρῳ· πλείον᾿ ἔτι δράσει κακά.

Producers and Crew

Artistic Director: Paul O’Mahony (Out of Chaos Theatre)
Associate Director: Liz Fisher
Director of Outreach: Amy Pistone (Gonzaga University)
Dramaturg: Emma Pauly
Executive Producer: Lanah Koelle (Center for Hellenic Studies)
Producers: Keith DeStone (Center for Hellenic Studies), Hélène Emeriaud, Janet Ozsolak, and Sarah Scott (Kosmos Society)
Poster Artist: John Koelle
Poster Designer: Allie Marbry (Center for Hellenic Studies)

Aristophanes, Assemblywomen 473-475

“There’s some ancient saying of our founding fathers:
However many foolish and stupid things we plan,
Everything will turn out better to our advantage anyway.”

λόγος γέ τοί τις ἔστι τῶν γεραιτέρων,
ὅσ᾿ ἂν ἀνόητ᾿ ἢ μῶρα βουλευσώμεθα,
ἅπαντ᾿ ἐπὶ τὸ βέλτιον ἡμῖν ξυμφέρειν.

Upcoming Episodes (Go to CHS Project Page for more information)

October 21 Agamemnon, Aeschylus
with Fiona Macintosh (University of Oxford); translation by O. Taplin

October 28 Libation Bearers, Aeschylus; translation by O. Taplin

November 4 Eumenides, Aeschylus
with Ellen McLaughlin (Barnard College) and Andrew Simpson (Catholic Univeristy of America); translation by O. Taplin

Aristophanes, Assemblywomen 590-592

“I suggest that everyone should share everything in common
And to live equally: this man won’t be rich, that one won’t be poor,
No more one man farming a massive field while another has too little for a grave”

κοινωνεῖν γὰρ πάντας φήσω χρῆναι πάντων μετέχοντας
κἀκ ταὐτοῦ ζῆν, καὶ μὴ τὸν μὲν πλουτεῖν, τὸν δ᾿ ἄθλιον εἶναι,
μηδὲ γεωργεῖν τὸν μὲν πολλήν, τῷ δ᾿ εἶναι μηδὲ ταφῆναι

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