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They don’t snitch, don’t sue, don’t destroy our democracy

November 6, 2012

When Women Take Over Democracy: A Humorous Page on How Men Imagine that Reversal

from Aristophanes’s play, “Women in Parliament” or Έκκλησιάζουσαι (also known as “The Assembly Women”), Written 390BCE, Translated by George Theodoridis ©2004

And he went on and on about all this, praising them. Gave a whole eulogy on them!  They don’t snitch, don’t sue, don’t destroy our democracy… lots of other great virtues.

And what did he propose?

That the city be turned over to the women. It was thought that this was the only thing the city hasn’t ever tried.

And this proposal passed?

My words exactly. Absolutely!

And these women are now in charge of everything that we were in charge of?

Yep.  Exactly right.  They’re in charge.

So… instead of me going to court, from now on it’ll be my wife?

Nor will you be raising your children any more.  Your missus will be in charge of that.

So… I won’t need to moan and groan every morning, worrying about our daily bread?

By Zeus, no!  Oh, no, mate!  From now on, it’s the wife who’ll be doing all the worrying.  No need to moan, groan or worry about a thing.  Just stay home and…
Blepyrus farts.
…fart all day!

Hmmm.  I… I fear for us, you know?  I fear that for men of our age, when these women take over they’ll force us… they’ll force us to… well, you know,  to…

To do what?

The Greek original here.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 2, 2013 9:20 pm

    But, of course, it’s not as easy as that, JK, is it? Something even more powerful than house chores comes into (the) play and the role reversal becomes, at the very least, questionable! Perhaps modern Democracies have heeded Aristophanes’ message and strove for equal participation of the sexes in the governing of a polis, a family, a corporation.

    Just wanted to let your readers know, JK, that the MSS from which Perseus has chosen the text is a little different to the one I worked on. This is common because all original transcripts suffer, either from lacunae corruption or from transpositions across copies.

    In this instance, students of the language will see that the Perseus text includes some lines sung by the chorus. Otherwise, it’s all parallel.

  2. February 3, 2013 8:16 am

    Thank you again, George Theodoridis, for your wonderful translations and for commenting here at this blog. Who knows all that Aristophanes intended. This is the wonderful thing about plays: they are given over to the producer, the director, the set makers and costume makers and casting decisionmaker; and the plays are made, really, then, by the actors and by their performance any given evening, and of course by the audience. Your translations, your plays, give such life to the old Greek. (Which mss did you find to use? Have you seen how Anne Carson, translating fragments of Sappho, recast her imagination her translation only slightly after a new and more complete manuscript was unearthed?)

    On democracies and modern ones and the participation of women in them, I dare say it’s been less men like Aristophanes and much much more women such as Olympe de Gouges and Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Asmaa Mahfouz who have encouraged women to be heard in politics and life.

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