Stubborn: A Greek Comedy

Why re-write an ancient Greek play by famed playwright Aristophanes? Why not! The story, about women who band together to stop a war, still resonates today.

Reviews:

“This very readable book has everything that still matters to us today: laughter, sexuality, culture, social awareness, gender equality, and the grim realities of war. 5 Stars.” Amazon Review

“This is a short read, but well worth it. Full of double-entendre, humor, and a commentary on the never-ending battle of the sexes. It kept me giggling and entertained … I would give it 10 stars if I could!” Goodreads Review

“Would make a good play. Or musical. Maybe a Netflix special.” Apollo, God of Poetry and Music

The Blurb:

The women of Athens have had enough. Enough of the war, enough of the fighting, and enough of their husbands abandoning all responsibility for the glory of battle. But Lysistrata has a plan: until warfare ceases, Greek women will renounce sex. 

The women on both sides of the conflict agree, and Lysistrata and her collaborators gather at the Acropolis. But soon she’s dealing with an incredulous magistrate and the crumbling resolve of her fellow sisters, not to mention the noise from a chorus of old men and women throwing insinuating comments and insults at each other.

Can the war be stopped? Will the sexes agree? Do the old men and women stop shouting?

Excerpt:

As Helios and his horses pulled the sun to its rest, the old men of Athens were more alert than they’d been in years. Too old to join the fighting, they normally remained at home tending their crops and drinking their wine. But tonight, they felt young again. As with the women, they had a leader of sorts, a retired olive merchant named Triandreas. Despite his grey hair and stooped back, he was still sharp as a scorpion’s tail, a trait that had ensured his success in business.

“It’s quiet now, listen.” He stopped, and the group of old men following him stopped as well. The men were of all shapes and sizes, some with straggling grey beards, others more white-haired, some lean, some fat, all with the stoop and wrinkles that come with experience. Other than the distant crackling of their dancing fires, the space the women occupied was silent. “Let’s go.” He motioned with his arm, and soon the crowd of a dozen men were shuffling along behind him. Their progression was slow, for each man carried two logs made of olive wood from Triandreas’ own land, a torch, and a small pot with a glowing coal.

No matter how much Triandreas tried to keep the men silent, his shushing and frantic gestures made little difference: the conversations quietened for a few seconds, then started back up again.

“It’s unbelievable! The Acropolis, our holy citadel dedicated to the most glorious bright-eyes goddess, taken over by women! And our women, no less, Athenian women.” A short, stout man struggling with his logs whispered.

His companion, of a similar shape and disposition, nodded his head in agreement. “It is surely the most astonishing thing anyone has ever heard of.” He frowned, thinking for a moment. “They cannot be the noblewomen, no. There must be some conspiracy. The taking of the citadel is an acrimonious act and only criminals would partake in such evil behaviour.”

“Keep moving! We’re almost there!” Triandreas’ tried to make his voice both commanding and discreet.

They lumbered forward, finally arriving at the base of the citadel steps. “Not much further to go,” they encouraged each other.

The youngest, a spry man of seventy-two, looked up at the long flight of stairs. Triandreas put his arm around the younger man. “It’s a long way, to be sure, but once we get to the top and place our logs between the gate posts, the conspirators will be forced to surrender.” They started walking up the stairs together, and, as they passed the other struggling men, Triandreas saw the same undecided look on their faces. He moved as quickly as possible to gain on the crowd and stopped to face them.

“I know some of you still think our plan will not work. But didn’t we once remove one of the great Spartan heroes from this very place? Cleomenes, that giant of a man? And his soldiers?” He waited as the old men considered his words. “That famous general was forced to vacate our sacred temple, hand over all his weapons, and was allowed to leave unmolested on the condition that he never return.”

At this, the laughter was so loud Triandreas gave up all hope of keeping their venture a secret, for surely the noise must reach the ears of those within the citadel. But he was more than pleased to have convinced them all, and they continued carrying their heavy burdens to the gates.

“We drag our logs up these long stairs, like oxen or strong breeding mares,” a bearded man wearing a spotless tunic muttered to himself.

“What’s that you say, Aristoboulos?” Triandreas asked.

Startled, he replied. “Oh, just using the time to work on my poetry.”

“Since when have you started composing poetry?”

Aristoboulos shifted his log from one side of his body to the other. “I’ve always admired poets and playwrights, but never had the time to enjoy the pursuit myself until I retired.”

“I wish you luck, may Apollo fill your soul with words.”

They’d finally arrived at the top of the steps, and all stood before the citadel gates.

“Ready yourselves!”

Newly energised once they’d all caught their breath, the old men blew on their coals.

Raising his potted coal in the air, Aristoboulos stated loudly, “Inside my pot there burns a coal, a remnant of Promethean soul, though I am old and my age chilling, my coal, you see, is ably willing.”

“Nicely put.” Triandreas said before the other man could continue. He brought his own coal to his lips and puffed. A cloud of dense smoke and ash flared up from the bowl. “By Zeus, I’m blinded!” He coughed and waved a hand in front of his face, his eyes streaming.

The other men had followed their leader’s actions, and their pots were also now smoking. “My eyes! I think Athena’s feathered companion has scratched my eyes!”

Aristoboulos, never one to pass up a lyrical opportunity and despite his own face being wet with tears, added, “And pigs as well, risen from their styes.”

Unable to control an eye roll, Triandreas shouted, “We must protect the citadel! The goddess of the hunt needs our help!” He blew on his jar again, this time more gently but still the ashes and smoke rose. After much coughing and sputtering, he saw a small flame dancing on the top of the coal. “Finally, the flame has woken.” He pointed at a space in front of the gates. “There. Stack your wood along the bottom of the doors.”

The men, their faces still red with coughing and eyes still running from the smoke of their own pots, dutifully filed forward. Each placed their logs and then stepped away. Soon the pile in front of the entrance was two feet high.

“The logs are stacked, our venture backed…”

“THANK you, Aristoboulos.” Triandreas turned to the waiting men. “We’re ready. We’ll call to these supposed ‘noble’ women of Athens and demand they open their sanctum to us.” He held his coal high and was about to lower it to light one of the logs when a sudden breeze blew the flame out. He looked in the jar and was rewarded with a puff of ash.

“This cursed smoke! It’s in my eyes again, blinding me like one of Zeus’ dewy nymphs!” He looked around. “Can anyone else set the logs aflame? I can barely see!” A few stepped forward and emptied the coals from their jars onto the waiting wood. While the fire was started, Triandreas, his eyes still blurred, turned to where he thought the statue of Athena stood and offered up words of supplication. “Great warrior, send your blessing to us, your humble supplicants, so that we may take your holy temple back from these wicked women.”

As if in reply, the smoke started to rise higher into the air.

“What’s this?”

The men looked up at the sound of the sharp voice. A group of old women stared down at them from one of the balconies leading off the gatehouse.

The woman turned and spoke to unseen others behind her. “I see smoke! These idiot men have lit a fire at the gates. Quickly, we must act!”

The old women disappeared except for two, who stood gazing down at the men.

Available Here: http://mybook.to/Stubborn

Copyright K Evans 2022

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