State Violence and Weaving: implications of Aristophanes’ Lysistrata for Plato’s Statesman
Keywords:Lysistrata, Plato, Statesman
This paper uses Aristophanes' Lysistrata to draw out the central violent tension of the weaving paradigm in Plato's Statesman. In the Lysistrata, weaving is offered as a metaphor for a tyrannical refashioning of the polis. In strikingly similar terms, the Eleatic Stranger of the Statesman proposes weaving as a metaphor for the best form of government. What is laughed off in the play, the characters of Plato's dialogue seem to take seriously. Through a comparative reading, I argue that the interpretations of the Statesman that take weaving as a paradigm for the best government of state, not only miss the comedy in the Stranger's discussion of statesmanship, but also the tragic allusions to tyranny. Furthermore, by drawing out the dialogue’s resonance with comedy, I conclude that the weaving paradigm succeeds in giving us a means for identifying tyranny in the Statesman; even when tyranny appears dressed up in a political science ostensibly formulated with the best of intentions.
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