The World of Aristophanes

Phenomenology of sexual pleasure in Aristophanes’ theatre

Francesco Morosi
University of Pisa
Guido Paduano
University of Pisa
Published October 12, 2021


Sex is a centerpiece of most Aristophanic comedies: the hero’s triumph is often rewarded, and represented, by sexual pleasure. However, sex
in Aristophanic drama is a complex phaenomenon, involving desire, power, money, and some of the fundamental dynamics of the archaia as a genre. In Aristophanes’ plays, it is possible to draw in broad terms a distinction between sex as a narcissistic realization of individual desire, and sex as a tool in power plays and relationships. This paper investigates both these aspects of sex in Aristophanic comedy (from Acharnians to Lysistrata, from Ecclesiazusae to Wealth), in order to provide a new interpretive framework for sexual pleasure in Aristophanes.