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Theôria the Pornê and Theoric Mothers: Sacred Sightseeing in Aristophanes' Peace and Lysistrata

Lauri Reitzammer (University of Colorado)
photo of Lauri Reitzammer
Friday, May 21, 2021 - 3:30pm to 5:00pm

In Aristophanes’ Peace (421 BCE)Trygaeus retrieves Peace (represented onstage by a statue) and two attendants from a cave on Olympus and brings them back to earth. Peace’s attendants, Theôria and Opôra, are two of the many mute female characters that populate Aristophanes’ plays (likely played by men in padded suits), and Peace’s companions represent travel to international festivals and harvest, respectively, activities decidedly associated with peace in classical Athenian thought. Theôria is figured as a pornê (prostitute). In Lysistrata, another peace-themed play produced ten years after Peace (411 BCE), although Theôria does not appear as a character, nevertheless, the theme of theôria persists, I suggest, in significantly altered form. This paper argues that, in Lysistrata, Aristophanes reworks the theme of theôria that had earlier appeared in Peace, this time firmly associating procreation with theoric travel, as a means of putting a stop to the Peloponnesian War, as Lysistrata’s allies become theoric mothers.

Lauri Reitzammer is an Associate Professor of Classics at the University of Colorado Boulder. Her first book was on the Athenian Adonis festival (The Athenian Adonia in Context: The Adonis Festival as Cultural Practice). She has written essays on, e.g., Aristophanes’ Lysistrata, Euripides' Bacchae and Sophocles' Oedipus at Colonus. She is currently working on a book on theôria in tragedy. She is the recipient of the CAMWS Award for Excellence in College Teaching 2018-19 

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