This comedy by Aristophanes was one that I was planning on covering very soon when I started posting my reviews of Attic Old Comedy a few years ago. For various reasons it kept falling by the wayside even though its subject matter was surprisingly relevant to ongoing controversies here in present day America, especially on college campuses.
The title Thesmophoriazusae has been rendered in different ways over the centuries – as Thesmophoria Women (the most literal translation), as Women Celebrating the Thesmophoria, and even as The Poet and the Women.
The Thesmophoria was an annual festival in ancient Greece, a festival that marked the myth about the goddess Demeter’s descent into the Netherworld to rescue her daughter Persephone, who had been stolen away by Hades, the god who ruled over the land of the dead. The festival was reserved for women only and was their version of the male initiation rites performed at all-male festivals.
The female celebrants lived in tents on the hill called the Pnyx for the three days of the Thesmophoria, which took place around the time of the autumn crop-sowing.
The premise of Thesmophoriazusae hits so close to home in these days of the repulsive Political Correctness Police that the seeming unlikelihood of it was one of the reasons I kept postponing my examination of it. Its storyline has always seemed to me like it was lifted straight from accounts of any of the countless pro-censorship rallies mounted by various groups of perpetually offended fools on campuses across the country. Continue reading