A summary and analysis of the play by Aristophanes

This document was originally published in The Drama: Its History, Literature and Influence on Civilization, vol. 2. ed. Alfred Bates. London: Historical Publishing Company, 1906. pp. 24-26.

The Thesmophoriazusae, which followed the Lysistrata during the reign of terror established by oligarchist conspirators, has a proper intrigue, a knot which is not untied till quite the end, and in this it possesses a great advantage. Euripides, on account of the well-known misogyny of his tragedies, is accused and sentenced to condign punishment at the festival of the Thesmophoria, at which women alone might be present. After a vain attempt to excite the effeminate poet, Agathon, to such an adventure, Euripides disguises his brother-in-law, Mnesilochus, a man now advanced in years, in the garb of a woman, that in this shape he may plead his cause. The manner in which he does this renders him suspected, and it is discovered that he is a man; he flees to an altar, and for greater security against their persecution he snatches a child from the arms of a woman and threatens to kill it if they do not let him alone. As he is about to throttle it, it turns out to be only a wine-skin dressed up in child's clothes. Then comes Euripides under various forms to rescue his friend; now he is Menelaus, who finds his wife Helen in Egypt; now Echo, helping the chained Andromache to complain; now Perseus, about to release her from her bonds. At last he frees Mnesilochus, who is fastened to a kind of pillory, by disguising himself as a procuress, and enticing away the officer, a simple barbarian, who is guarding him, by the charms of a flute-playing girl. These parodied scenes, composed almost in the very words of the tragedies, are inimitable. Everywhere in the piece, the instant Euripides comes into play, we may look for the cleverest and most cutting ridicule; as though Aristophanes possessed a specific talent for translating the poetry of this tragedian into comedy. On the other hand, the fact that the Athenian audience should at once appreciate the parody, proves that they were perfectly familiar with the scenes and lines of Euripides. As a literary public they were unsurpassed in any age.

Purchase Thesmophoriazusae


Home · Theatre Links · Script Archive · Bookstore · Email · © 2002