Πρόσφατα άρθρα

ἐξ ἐρίων δὴ καὶ κλωστήρων καὶ ἀτράκτων

This essay examines that metaphor in the context of the political and war situation at the time Lysistrata was first performed. It considers traditional gender roles in the fifth-century Greek polis and Lysistrata’s inversion of those roles in her weaving analogy. Aristophanes’ comedic purpose in the weaving speech, in Lysistrata as a whole, and more generally across his corpus is examined. In addition, some observations are made about the sound pattern of Lysistrata’s speech and, in a personal argument, a speculative suggestion is advanced that the audience might have associated her cadences with the familiar rhythms of a domestic weaving loom.

ἐξ ἐρίων δὴ καὶ κλωστήρων καὶ ἀτράκτων

Examine the role of self-deception in the historical poems of Cavafy

This is a heartfelt yet rigorous and intelligent essay submitted by Sophie Prewett for the course I teach to 3rd year undergraduate Classics students at the University of Reading where I have been teaching for the last thirteen years. My course bears the title 'My Mother's sin and other stories' aiming at introducing some major authors and works as well as trends in Modern Greek Poetry and Fiction from the late 19th century to the late 20th century in connection with both the history, sociocultural context and wider literary developments of their period and illustrating attitudes to the ancient past in the work of some selected poets and novelists. All texts are taught from English translations. My students take this course as optional and for the majority a whole new world of hidden Modern Greek treasures is unveiled. Many have called the experience of my course as 'a breath of fresh air' which i consider an ultimate credit...

Examine the role of self-deception in the historical poems of Cavafy

Discuss the use of the so-called ‘narrated monologue’ or ‘free indirect speech’ as employed for the first time ever in Greek fiction by Vizuinos.

This is a another heartfelt yet rigorous and intelligent essay submitted by Micahela Leary for the course I teach to 3rd year undergraduate Classics students at the University of Reading where I have been teaching for the last thirteen years. My course bears the title 'My Mother's sin and other stories' aiming at introducing some major authors and works as well as trends in Modern Greek Poetry and Fiction from the late 19th century to the late 20th century in connection with both the history, sociocultural context and wider literary developments of their period and illustrating attitudes to the ancient past in the work of some selected poets and novelists. All texts are taught from English translations. My students take this course as optional and for the majority a whole new world of hidden Modern Greek treasures is unveiled. Many have called the experience of my course as 'a breath of fresh air' which i consider an ultimate credit...

Discuss the use of the so-called ‘narrated monologue’ or ‘free indirect speech’ as employed for the first time ever in Greek fiction by Vizuinos.

Η ΔΕΠΠΣ και η ελληνόγλωσση εκπαίδευση εξωτερικού

Αξιολόγηση της ελληνόγλωσσης τριτοβάθμιας εκπαίδευσης εξωτερικού στην Ελλάδα

Η ΔΕΠΠΣ και η ελληνόγλωσση εκπαίδευση εξωτερικού

Μεταπτυχιακό εξ αποστάσεως πρόγραμμα για τη Διδασκαλία της Ελληνικής ως Δεύτερης/Ξένης Γλώσσας (Παν. Λευκωσίας - ΚΕΓ)

Το Πανεπιστήμιο Λευκωσίας σε συνεργασία με το Κέντρο Ελληνικής Γλώσσας διοργανώνει μεταπτυχιακό πρόγραμμα "Διδασκαλία της Ελληνικής ως Δεύτερης/Ξένης Γλώσσας (MA, 3 εξάμηνα) - Εξ Αποστάσεως".

Μεταπτυχιακό εξ αποστάσεως πρόγραμμα για τη Διδασκαλία της Ελληνικής ως Δεύτερης/Ξένης Γλώσσας (Παν. Λευκωσίας - ΚΕΓ)

Greek/Classics Department Award Ceremony: Theodora Kamaroudi

Με απόφαση του τμήματος Κλασικών και Νέων Ελληνικών Σπουδών την Παρασκευή 18 Μαΐου 2012 απονεμήθηκε το βραβείο αριστείας στην διδασκαλία της Νέας Ελληνικής γλώσσας και πολιτισμού στην Δρ. Θεοδώρα Καμαρούδη, αναγνωρίζοντας την ως την καλύτερη αποσπασμένη φιλόλογο από το Υπουργείο Παιδείας της Ελλάδας που έχει φιλοξενήσει το πανεπιστήμιό μας την τελευταία πενταετία.

Greek/Classics Department Award Ceremony: Theodora Kamaroudi

BIRZEIT UNIVERSITY - Παλαιστίνη

Ευαγγελία Καφφέ-Αλαούνε BIRZEIT UNIVERSITY Αγγλόφωνο Πανεπιστήμιο όπου διδάσκονται τα ν.ε

BIRZEIT UNIVERSITY - Παλαιστίνη

Poetics and Histories: To What Extent Did C. P. Cavafy Alter Historical Narratives, and for What Artistic Purposes?

stuident Name: Joseph Watson Module Lecturer: Dr Dimitra Tzanidaki-Kreps Date of Submission: 11/01/2016

Poetics and Histories: To What Extent Did C. P. Cavafy Alter Historical Narratives, and for What Artistic Purposes?

ΓΙΑΝΝΗΣ ΖΗΚΟΥΔΗΣ: Άξιον Εστί

Σκοπός της εργασίας αυτής είναι η προσέγγιση του Άξιον Εστί με ερευνητικό εργαλείο το ηρωοκεντρικό μοντέλο αφηγηματικής ανάλυσης που ανέδειξε η μακρά παράδοση συστηματικής ανάλυσης λογοτεχνικών έργων η οποία ξεκίνησε με τη μελέτη της δομής των ρωσικών παραμυθιών από τους Ρώσους φορμαλιστές στις αρχές του 20ου αιώνα και πέρασε αργότερα στους στρουκτουραλιστές και σημειολόγους θεωρητικούς της λογοτεχνίας.

ΓΙΑΝΝΗΣ ΖΗΚΟΥΔΗΣ: Άξιον Εστί

4ο Κορεατικό Συνέδριο για τον συγγραφέα Νίκο Καζαντζάκη στη Σεούλ

Στις 19 Μαίου 2012 πραγματοποιήθηκε στη Σεούλ το 4ο Κορεατικό Συνέδριο για τον Έλληνα συγγραφέα Νίκο Καζαντζάκη με θέμα το βιβλίο του για τον άγιο Φραγκίσκο της Ασίζης «Ο Φτωχούλης του Θεού».

4ο Κορεατικό Συνέδριο για τον συγγραφέα Νίκο Καζαντζάκη στη Σεούλ

ἐξ ἐρίων δὴ καὶ κλωστήρων καὶ ἀτράκτων

Name: Charles Stewart 

Module convenor: Dr. Dimitra Tzanidaki-Kreps

Submission due date: 12 January 2018

 

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ἐξ ἐρίων δὴ καὶ κλωστήρων καὶ ἀτράκτων

Lysistrata’s Woolmaking Formula for Peace1

 

Introduction

Lysistrata, recently emerged from the Propylaea, is arguing with a proboulos about the conduct 

of the war with Sparta. She criticises the behaviour of the Athenian men, who, risibly, can be 

seen strutting around the agora fully-armed (555-64). The proboulos counters with a question: 

πῶς οὖν ὑμεῖς δυναταὶ παῦσαι τεταραγμένα πράγματα πολλὰ ἐν ταῖς

χώραις καὶ διαλῦσαι; “So how is it possible for you [women] to put an end to the highly 

confused events in the lands and sort things out?” (565-6). In his use of τεταραγμένα and 

διαλῦσαι, the proboulos adumbrates Lysistrata’s response. Just like a teasing apart a mixed-up 

(τεταραγμένος) skein of wool, she says, τὸν πόλεμον τοῦτον διαλύσομεν, we will untangle 

this war, if we are allowed (567-9). In the face of considerable scepticism from the proboulos

(ὦς ἀνόητοι, he opines), Lysistrata gives a detailed weaving metaphor to illustrate how the 

state should be set in order, and peace achieved (574-86). 

This essay examines that metaphor in the context of the political and war situation at the time 

Lysistrata was first performed. It considers traditional gender roles in the fifth-century Greek 

polis and Lysistrata’s inversion of those roles in her weaving analogy. Aristophanes’ comedic 

purpose in the weaving speech, in Lysistrata as a whole, and more generally across his corpus is 

examined. In addition, some observations are made about the sound pattern of Lysistrata’s 

speech and, in a personal argument, a speculative suggestion is advanced that the audience 

might have associated her cadences with the familiar rhythms of a domestic weaving loom.

 

The political context

The dating of Lysistrata depends on internal evidence: both on what is, and what is not, present 

in the text, in the context of events at the time as described by Thucydides.2

 That evidence strongly favours performance at the Lenaia (an Athenians-only festival) in early February 

 

1 Lysistrata lines 565-86. Relevant adjacent lines are also cited in this essay. Line numbers are 

indicated in parentheses in the text.

2 Thucydides Book 8 covers the period during which Lysistrata was produced

 

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412/11.3 Athens had recently been trouble. The disastrous Sicilian expedition of 415-413 had 

destroyed much of Athens’ naval fleet, and with it her crucial dominance of the sea, as well as 

bringing major losses to her army and military leadership. But the city was recovering. A 

board of ten probouloi had been established to propose emergency measures for swift approval 

and implementation.4

 Athens had drawn on the special financial reserve set up by Pericles in 

431 and started to rebuild its fleet. Anti-democratic forces were at work, although the 

democracy was for the moment intact. (It was not to be many months before it was briefly 

replaced by an oligarchic constitution). As the Athenian audience settled to watch 

Aristophanes’ new production, the Sicily debacle, the political process which led to it, and the 

continuing threat from Athens’ enemies, Sparta and her allies, would have been at the forefront 

of their minds. Behind that must, surely, have been a weariness over an inconclusive intra-

Hellenic conflict that had continued, on and off, for nearly twenty years.

 

Women and men and weaving and war

Odysseus’ faithful wife Penelope famously wove by day and unravelled her work by night, a 

subterfuge which allowed her to ward off her collection of suitors for three years.5

 There is a detail in the Penelope story that shows us the proper relationship, in the Greek conception, 

between the work of women and the business of men. Penelope, upstairs in the women’s 

quarters of the house, comes downstairs to the gathering of men below to complain about the 

song the minstrel is playing, which is about the disasters suffered on the return from Troy. Her 

son Telemachus sends her straight back up to her loom and spindle: weaving, he says, is the 

work of women, while talking is the concern of men.6 Lysistrata inverts this traditional 

demarcation. First, echoing the Iliad, she sets up the conventional paradigm, wearily mimicking 

a typical Greek husband, who tells his wife to get back to the loom and quotes Hector: πόλεμος 

δ᾽ ἄνδρεσσι μελήσει, war is for men to take care of (520).7

 A few lines later, she upends 

Hector’s assertion. κᾆτα ξαίνειν, ‘then you comb wool’ she tells the proboulos (536): πόλεμος

δὲ γυναιξὶ μελήσει, ‘war is the business of women.’ (538).

 

3 Henderson (1987) xv-xvi

4 Henderson (1987) xvi

5 Homer Odyssey 2:84-110

6 Homer Odyssey 1:325-59

7 Homer Iliad 6.492

 

 

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The weaving metaphor

Let us look in detail at Lysistrata’s inversion of the traditional order. If indeed πόλεμος δὲ

γυναιξὶ μελήσει, how would women suggest the war be brought to an end? ἐκ τῶν ἐρίων

τῶν ἡμετέρων, ‘from the methods of our wool’ is Lysistrata’s answer (573). First, just as with 

raw wool, the sheep-dung needs to be washed from τῆς πόλεως, the body politic. The villains 

need to be beaten out like plucking out burrs from wool, and those who stick together and 

compress themselves like felt in order to gain office should be combed out. Here Lysistrata is 

probably referring to the factions or ἑταιρείαι who, according to Thucydides, were at the time 

responsible for conspiracies of mutual aid in seeking office. In the first part of 411, anti-

democratic factions were working together to overthrow democracy in Athens.8

The bad actors removed, people should be brought together in a wool-basket of good feeling. 

ἅπαντας καταμιγνύντας, mixing up everyone, says Lysistrata (578-9). She means, at this 

point, all Athenian citizens. To these, she adds metics, other foreigners who are friendly to 

Athens, and public debtors, who were deprived of their citizens’ rights until their debt was 

repaid.9

 None of these groups would normally have had a voice in the Athenian political 

process. Finally Lysistrata proposes gathering together, like loose bits of wool, τάς γε πόλεις,

ὁπόσαι τῆς γῆς τῆσδ᾽ εἰσὶν ἄποικοι, ‘any cities that are colonies of this land’ (582). All these 

disparate categories should be brought together into one, and, just like a great ball of wool, be 

used to weave a cloak for the people. The verb used here, ὑφῆναι, means both ‘to weave’ and 

‘to plan a scheme’, which consolidates the metaphorical link between weaving and politics 

(586).10

Immediately prior to providing the proboulos with this recipe for proper administration of the 

Athenian state, Lysistrata had, as we saw in the Introduction above, offered a wool metaphor 

to end the war with Sparta. Like drawing wool this way and that with spindles, she says, 

women will untangle the war by sending embassies here and there. 

 

8 Sommerstein (2007) 183. Thucydides History of the Peloponnesian War 8.54.4

9 Sommerstein (2007) 183

10 According to the LSJ Lexicon

 

 

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Was Aristophanes making a serious point?

Taken at face value, Lysistrata’s proposals are both simplistic and rather implausible. There 

was no doubt a real desire among the demos to rid the political sphere of oligarchic factions, 

metics were highly valued as hoplites and in the navy,11 and Athens of course valued the 

support of her allies. But simply assembling every person well-disposed towards Athens 

together as friends seems an unlikely and impractical formula for political resolution at home, 

and merely sending out embassies to negotiate peace (embassies were in any case a feature of 

the war with Sparta, as can be ascertained from Thucydides) seems an optimistic prescription 

for ending the war. Henderson argues that the play’s ‘fantastic and utopian features’ are more 

than just escapist entertainment, and represent an attempt by Aristophanes to reassure the 

Athenians about their prospects for an acceptable settlement.12

 However, I am inclined to agree with Sidwell’s initially counterintuitive argument that Aristophanes’ intent is parody, 

not praise, of the womens’ ideas about the conduct of politics and war. Sidwell argues that 

following the Sicilian defeat there was some encroachment by women into the political sphere, 

including the involvement of Lysimache, the priestess of Athena Polias, and that Lysistrata 

echoes an underlying real desire among Athenian women to end the conflict. But the 

woolworking speech, argues Sidwell, is a comedic female appropriation of a contemporary 

Socratic woolworking metaphor later recorded as a (male) Socratic dialogue by Plato in the 

Politicus.13

 The whole point of the play, in Sidwell’s view, is that the women’s plan for ending 

the war is totally unrealisable. Aristophanes intends to make Lysistrata (as the altera ego of 

Lysimache) appear crass and foolish. Lysistrata’s ‘peace’ as portrayed at the end of the play 

would simply be a capitulation by Athens.14

 

Sidwell’s ideas can be extended to a more general observation, made by Olson, about 

Aristophanes’ comedic purpose. Olson argues that there is no evidence that any of 

Aristophanes’ plays were intended to have a substantial effect on public policy. For example, 

Acharnians expresses severe disaffection with the war, but offers no solutions, instead merely 

mocking the stupidity of the Athenians. Similarly, the parabasis of Frogs calls for national 

 

11 Henderson (1987) 143

12 Henderson (1987) xx

13 Plato Politicus 308c-309b, 310e, 311b-e

14 Sidwell (2009) 252-65.

 

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reconciliation – a call which was rapturously received by the audience and won Aristophanes a 

prize – but it offers nothing more concrete than expressing exactly what the demos were 

thinking. Aristophanes’ comedic purpose was to entertain (and to win the comedy prize) by 

capturing the public mood rather than shaping it or seeking to teach anything at all to his 

audience.15

 The audience was free to laugh, but Aristophanes was not telling them to do 

anything in particular about the sorry state of affairs in the polis.16

 Lysistrata’s woolmaking metaphor, in other words, is not a serious political suggestion.

 

Listening to Lysistrata: the weaving speech in performance

Lysistrata’s weaving metaphor, it seems to me, might be seen structurally as multi-level. First, 

there is the explicitly-stated political analogy. Second, the speech is itself woven into the two 

main plots, the sex strike and the occupation of the Acropolis. Finally, the linguistic structure 

weaves its own internal pattern, as it shuttles back and forth between political and domestic 

references. This latter point is treated in detail by Carroll Moulton, who illustrates the pattern 

to be found in some of the lines in the following table.17

As Moulton notes, this interplay continues throughout the woolmaking image. Moulton does 

not directly connect it with the back-and-forth of a weaving shuttle. Nonetheless, starting from 

Moulton’s back-and forth observation I set out here a personal argument about the 

performative aspect of the weaving metaphor.

What did a domestic loom sound like in operation? The subject has recently been examined in 

detail by Giovanni Fanfani of the Deutsches Museum in Munich, whose academic interests 

include the relationship between ancient crafts, especially weaving, and ancient poetry and 

 

15 Olson (2010) 45

16 Olson (2010) 69

17 Moulton (1981) 55

 

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song.18

 He has conducted an etymological study of the noun κερκίς, the Ancient Greek name 

for a device used for beating the wefts into place during the weaving process. He argues that 

striking the threads with a κερκίς was visually and acoustically distinctive, producing one of 

the most typical weaving gestures and, more importantly, a recognisable rhythmic sound.19

 In support of his thesis, Fanfani cites 9th to 12th century etymologica. Quoting a line from Sappho: 

γλύκηα μᾶτερ, οὔ τοι δύναμαι κρέκην τὸν ἴστον, ‘Sweet mother, I really cannot strike the 

loom’, the medieval lexicographers explain κερκίς as: παρὰ τὸ κρέκειν ὄ ἐστιν ἠκεῖν, ‘derived 

from κρέκειν, that is to resound’. Together with a literary topos about the ‘song of the κερκίς’ 

found in two fragments of Socrates and in Hellenistic epigraphy, this suggests, argues Fanfani, 

that a κερκίς in use may have made the loom rhythmically resound.20

 

Let us now consider the sound patterns in Lysistrata’s weaving speech. For example:

ἐκραβδίζειν τοὺς μοχθηροὺς καὶ τοὺς τριβόλους ἀπολέξαι, 

καὶ τούς γε συνισταμένους τούτους καὶ τοὺς πιλοῦντας ἑαυτοὺς (576-77)

and

καταμιγνύντας: τούς τε μετοίκους κεἴ τις ξένος ἢ φίλος ὑμῖν, 

κεἴ τις ὀφείλει τῷ δημοσίῳ, καὶ τούτους ἐγκαταμεῖξαι: (580-81)

In each of these pair of lines there appears to be significant repetition and rhythmical pattern of 

καὶ τοὺς, κεἴ τις, καὶ τούτους, and –ους endings in general. This may of course be driven 

simply by the demands of inflection and metre. I have found no indication otherwise in 

scholarship. But it is tempting to imagine the protagonist delivering Lysistrata’s speech 

rhythmically, perhaps with accompanying gestures, in such a way as to echo the familiar 

sounds and movements of weaving at a domestic loom. 

 

18 Fanfani (2017) 

19 Fanfani (2017) 422. Sappho 102 V

20 Fanfani (2017) 425 quoting, inter alia, the 9th century Etymologicum Genuinum

 

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Bibliography

Primary Texts

Aristophanes. Acharnians. 

Aristophanes. Frogs. 

Aristophanes. Lysistrata. 

Homer. Iliad. 

Homer. Odyssey. 

Plato. Politicus. 

Sappho. 

Thucydides. History of the Peloponnesian War. 

Secondary Sources

Fanfani, G. (2017). 'Weaving a Song. Convergences in Greek Poetic Imagery between Textile 

and Musical Terminology. An Overview on Archaic and Classical Literature.', in Gaspa, S., 

Michel, C. & Nosch, M.-L. (eds.) Textile Terminologies from the Orient to the Mediterranean and 

Europe, 1000 BC to 1000 AD.: 421-436. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries.

Henderson, J. (1987). Aristophanes’ Lysistrata. Oxford: OUP.

Moulton, C. (1981). Aristophanic Poetry. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.

Olson, S.D. (2010). 'Comedy, Politics and Society', in Dobrov, G.W. (ed.) Brill’s Companion to the 

Study of Greek Comedy. Leiden: Brill.

Sidwell, K.C. (2009). Aristophanes the Democrat : The Politics of Satirical Comedy during the 

Peloponnesian War. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press.

Sommerstein, A.H. (2007). Aristophanes’ Lysistrata. London: Aris and Phillips.

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