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This article is about Aristophanes' Ecclesiazusae (Ἐκκλησιάζουσαι). For assemblywomen, see assemblywoman and women in government.
[1] Aristophanes, portrait bust, c. 4th–1st century bce; From Greek Dramas by Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Aristophanes, D. Appleton and Company, New York, 1900

Written by


The Dramatis Personae is based on Jeffrey Henderson's translation.[2]
Chorus Athenian Women
  • Praxagora an Athenian Wife
  • First Woman a neighbor of Praxagora
  • Second Woman Praxagora's neighbor
  • Blepyrus Praxagora's Husband
  • Neighbor of Blepyrus
  • Chremes
  • Selfish Man
  • Herald a woman appointed by Praxagora
  • First Old Woman
  • Girl
  • Epigenes a young man
  • Second Old Woman
  • Third Old Woman
  • Maid of Praxagora"

Silent Characters

  • Sicon and Parmenon neighbor's slaves
  • Two Girls
Setting An Athenian street

Aristophanes' Ecclesiazusae (Greek: Ἐκκλησιάζουσαι Ekklesiazousai; translated as Assemblywomen, Congresswomen, Women in Parliament, Women in Power, and A Parliament of Women) is a play dating from 391 BC.[3] The play shares similar thematic concerns with Lysistrata in that a large portion of the comedy is about women involving themselves in politics, and addresses various gender issues.


The play concerns a group of women, the leader of which is Praxagora. She has decided that the women must convince the men to give them control of Athens, because they could rule it better than the men have been. The women, in the guise of men, sneak into the assembly and vote the measure, convincing some of the men to vote for it because it is the only thing they have not tried.

The women then institute a communist-like government in which the state feeds, houses, and generally takes care of every Athenian. They enforce an idea of equality by allowing each man to sleep with any woman, provided that he first sleeps with every woman in Athens who is uglier than the woman he wants.

Private property is abolished and all money and property are to go into a common fund. All expenses and purchases by each individual are to come out of the common fund. Any individual with personal property is considered to have stolen from the community.

In one scene, two men are talking. One of them is going along with the new government, giving his property to the women, and obeying their orders. The other does not wish to give up his property, but he is more than willing to take advantage of the free food.

The following scene has a pair of young lovers unable to make their tryst as a succession of older and more hideous women attempt to and eventually succeed in dragging the man off to make love to them first, as laid down by the new laws.

The final scene or epilogue has Praxagora's husband, Blepyrus, on his way to the communal feast, and inviting the audience to join him.


This play portrays views of women common at the time.[4] Among other things, Aristophanes pokes fun of them as being lazy, drinking excessively and making their husbands' lives into living hell.

The enforced equality is also something of a political statement in addition to being a social one. After the oligarchy put in place after the war fell, Athenians asserted their democracy and equality very strongly, to the point that, while it was a clear exaggeration, the play surely made its position on "excessive" democracy clear.

The plot presents and makes fun of the ideas of abolition of private property, abolition of the family and purely material prosperity.[5]

Longest word[edit]

The play contains the longest word in Greek, transliterated as:


or, in the Greek alphabet:

λοπαδο­τεμαχο­σελαχο­γαλεο­κρανιο­λειψανο­δριμυπο­τριμματο­σιλφιο­καραβομελιτο­κατα­κεχυμενο­κιχλεπικοσσυφοφαττο­περιστεραλεκτρυονοπτο­κεφαλλιο­κιγκλοπελειο­λαγῳοσιραιο­βαφητραγανο­πτερύγων. (1169–74)

Liddell and Scott translate this as "name of a dish compounded of all kinds of dainties, fish, flesh, fowl, and sauces."[6] The Greek word contains 171 letters, which far surpasses that of Shakespeare's 27-letter long word, "honorificabilitudinitatibus" in his Love's Labour's Lost V.I.


  1. ^ "Aristophanes - Greek dramatist". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2016-10-23. 
  2. ^ a b Aristophanes: The Frogs and Other Plays D.Barrett (ed.), Penguin Classics 1964
  3. ^ For discussion on the staging date of this play, see: Sommerstein (2007), 1–7
  4. ^ a b Sommerstein (2007), 149n119–120, 158n215–228, 159n224, 159n225, 160n236, 160n238.
  5. ^
  6. ^ Liddell and Scott: lopado...pterygon


  • Aristophanes Aristophanes. ed. B. B. Rogers (London, 1902). Translation in verse.
  • Aristophanes. Ecclesiazusae. ed. trans. R. Smith (Oxford, 1833). Translation in verse.
  • Aristophanes. Ecclesiazusae. trans. G. Theodoridis (2002). Translation in prose.
  • Aristophanes. Ecclesiazusae. ed. R. G. Ussher (Oxford, 1973).
  • Aristophanes. Le Donne al Parlamento ed. M. Vetta (Milan, 1989).
  • Henderson, Jeffrey (1996). Three Plays by Aristophanes: Staging Women. Scholarly translation free from censorship which mars earlier translations.
  • Sommerstein, A. H. (2007). Aristophanes' Ecclesiazusae (Oxford, 2007). Critical edition containing Greek, translation in prose, commentary and introduction.