An introduction to a classic play
It has to win the prize for ‘classical play known under the most different titles’. Although not his most famous play, Assemblywomen is one of Aristophanes’ most interesting. It’s been translated as Congresswomen, Women in Parliament, Women in Power, Women Holding an Assembly, A Parliament of Women, and, of course, its most familiar title, Assemblywomen.
Written in 391 BC, it’s a wonderfully fun play, a comic fantasy about women being in charge of government and men reduced to feeble, pitiable creatures in drag. This makes it a great play to analyse and discuss. It even contains the longest word in all of literature: Lopadotemachoselachogaleokranioleipsanodrimhypotrimmatosilphioparaomelitokatakechymenokichlepikossyphophattoperisteralektryonoptekephalliokigklopeleiolagoiosiraiobaphetraganopterygon. It is the name for a fictional food dish containing meat, fish, and wine, and is 183 letters long – enough for six antidisestablishmentarianisms.
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