Peace and Gendered Agricultural Festivals in Aristophanes’ Acharnians


This essay calls for a re-evaluation of the image of Dikaiopolis as a selfish, hedonistic figure who stands in sharp contrast to the figures of Trygaios and Lysistrata. Underneath the veneer of self-centeredness and self-indulgence — which is enacted by Aristophanes in the interest of antiwar rhetoric — lies a figure who cares deeply for the well-being of agricultural land and the female-dominated fertility rites of Attica. In support of this argument I offer (a) an attentive re-reading of the Megarian scene (730-835) which features the bartering of two girls disguised as sacrificial piglets for the Mysteries, and (b) an equally close examination of the figure of Amphitheos. In the case of the former this entails focusing on the allusions being made to Demeter’s agricultural fertility rituals such as the rituali­stic megara (pits) with regard to the Thesmophoria festival, and the figure of Diocles (774) with regard to the Eleusinian Mysteries. In the case of the later this entails an analysis of his genealogy as it relates to Demeter’s religious rites and Attica’s ancestral founders.