Lysistrata (Research Notes)

THE SOCIAL AND POLITICAL BACKGROUND OF ATHENS

  • The heyday of Greek Theatre coincided with the most extraordinary time in its development as a City-State
  • Three events happened to shape Athens in the 5th Century BC:
    • The Defeat of Persia
    • The Introduction of Democracy (brought about by Pericles - a great Greek leader)
    • The Peloponnesian War (which created the fall of Athens to Spartan Rule)

The Defeat of Persia

  • The defeat of Persia made Athens the centre of 'tourism' at the time - which made people flock to the city to admire the buildings, such as the temples for the Gods and the Acropolis and of course its theatre
  • Athens wasn't a large city - it roughly had 300,000 people living there, with most living outside the walls
  • Near most citizens participated in the Arts, which where important to Athenians at the time. The ruler Pericles boasted that Athens was "The School of Greece" which made citizens prize beauty and the arts
  • The Defeat of Persia contributed to Athenian wealth, making some individuals every rich, because it was a way of the other Greek states basically saying "Thanks Athens! Here's some money to say you rule and so you can protect us in the future". This made Athens 'leader' of Greece
  • Those individual rich people were ordered to pay by Pericles to donate to the the arts to support them, by, for example, putting on a play.

The Introduction of Democracy

  • The Democracy of Athens in the 5th Century BC wasn't exactly democratic
  • Of the 300,000 inhibitants of Greece, only 40,000 were actually allowed to votes.
  • Women, 'metics'/'foreigners' and slaves couldnt vote due to a lack of human rights
  • Decision making meeting could be attended by citizens of Athens, and like today, anyone could be apart of the Council or an offical, who had a say in the running of their city.
  • Everyone had a real chance to be apart of politics at least one in their life tiem due to the limited change around of parliment members
  • Money was spent on buildings, the arts and theatrical festivals
  • Even during the Peloponnesian War, money from very rich individuals was used for productions and for the arts

The Peloponnesian War

  • The Peloponnesian War was Athens vs. Sparta, and was started pretty much because of jealously of one another.
  • Sparta desired and hated the power and democracy that

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