“Lysistrata” by Aristophanes helps to show both the reality and misconceptions of the relationship between desire and rationality.
The play beings with a group of women who are discussing how to create peace in a time of war. Their answer is to control the men by withholding sex. From the very beginning, the women make it known that just as the men, they have their own desires for sex, and are at first very unwilling to make the sacrifice. “Cleonice: Anything, anything but that! Bid me go through the fire, if you will,-but to rob us of the sweetest thing in all the world, Lysistrata darling!” In this quote, Cleonice states that she rather walk through fire than give up her sexuality. This shows that like men, women can reason through their passions, thinking first of their desires, and then of the rational.
As the play goes on, Lysistrata is able to convince the other women that her plan is the best course of action, and it works. All of the men are at first controlled by their desires, and beg the women to succumb to their needs. Lysistrata is able to understand that it is through controlling desire, that peace can be achieved. In this liberating play, Lysistrata claims that war ist just as much business as a man. Through the use of sarcasm and quick conversation, Aristophones is able to create a quick paced emotional scene as Lysistrata must argue defending her own competence and rationality, using the power of desire to make herself heard.
“May gentle Love and the sweet Cyprian Queen shower seductive charms on our breasts and our thighs. If only we may stir so amorous a feeling among the men that they stand as firm as sticks, we shall indeed deserve the name of peace-makers among the Greeks. “ She must use the power of sexual desire in order to have the men of the time hear women’s concerns with war. She argues that women are left at home alone, with no physical satisfaction, only to have their husbands returned to them old, looking for a younger love. She demands that the war be ended to have their husbands returned to them and their loneliness ended. In effect, Lysistrata is achieving more physical contact and connection, by denying physical contact and connection. In taking away the physical act, it increases the men’s desire for it, allowing for the overall goal of peace to be successful.