Lysistrata

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Dates: A.D. 66, 1942, 1954, 1967

Region: Europe, North America

Subject: Political/Economic/Social Opinion, Explicit Sexuality

Medium: Theater, Performance Art, Literature


Lysistrata.jpg

Artist: Aristophanes (c.448-c.380 B.C.)

Confronting Bodies: Plutarch, United States customs, Nazi occupation authorities, Greek military

Dates of Action: A.D. 66, 1942, 1954, 1967

Location: Greece, The United States of America

Description of Artwork: Lysistrata 411 B.C.: The women of Athens led by Lysistrata, tired of the Peloponnesian war, devise a plan with women of the other warring states to withhold the pleasures of the flesh from their men until they stop fighting. The play also depicts the seizure of Acropolis and of the treasury of Athens by the women.

The Incident: A.D. 66 Aristophanes' comedies were considered obscene by Plutarch.

1930 United States : Customs ban lifted on Lysistrata. During the period of prohibition the book was published and sold for as little as thirty-five cents; and the drama was played in New York and Philadelphia as adapted by Gilbert Seldes.

1942 Greece-Athens : performance of classic Greek plays banned by Nazi occupation authorities.

1954 United States : Post Office officials seized a copy of the 1926 translation of Lysistrata, by Jack Lindsay, addressed by Fanfrolico Press, England, to Harry A. Levinson, Beverly Hills bookseller. The Post Office quickly reversed itself and delivered the book, but only because it was "not for general distribution".

1967 Greece-Athens : The military clique then ruling the country banned a number of classic plays, Lysistrata, presumably because of their independent and antiwar themes

Results of Incident: 1955 United States : In a successful challenge of the Comstock Act of 1873 which empowered the Postmaster General to rule on obscenity of literature sent through the mail, Lysistrata was declared mailable.

Source: Banned Books 387 B.C. to 1978 A.D., by Anne Lyon Haight, and Chandler B. Grannis, R.R. Bowker Co, 1978.