During the ancient Greek period there were rivalries between poet-dramatist and political philosophers, they both had their own views of how harmony should be achieved. Although some of their ideas were similar, Aristophanes and Plato had conflicting methods of accomplishing harmony, reconciliation, and peace. Some of these ideas still affect how we live our lives today from politics to our though process. Both of these men believed that change was necessary for the ideal conditions to exist.
In the time period that these two men lived and shared their thoughts, society was based upon a rigid structure, things have been a certain way and no one wanted or thought about change. People felt that things were a specific way for a certain reason and should remain that way because that is how it should be. They based the way they lived around traditions as we also due today. Today we have turkey on Thanksgiving because we follow traditions set forth by our ancestors.
Aristophanes wrote the play Lysistrata that depicted men as ignorant and barbaric. The women on the other hand were negotiable and experienced. At the time Aristophanes used humor to etch thoughts into peoples minds. He believed that women should rule or at the least play a major role in society and politics. Plato had a similar idea, he thought that women should be equal with men and also share the positions of politics; this would create an equilibrium because men and woman have different qualities that would counterbalance society.
One of the main points that Aristophanes and Plato had was the structure of state, family, and society. Aristophanes thought that politics should be ran as the family was. Therefore government and the citizens should come together and work as one, the same way that a family is controlled. At the time their were conflicts and regulations that were stopping this to become reality, for instance, the women being second class citizens when in actuality they ran the household when the men were off fighting in wars. They handled all of the duties like clockwork. At the time men were the dominant figures in society ruling all, just as a monarch or dictatorship would control all of its subordinates. He created Lysistrata to poke fun of the ways things were controlled, and also to show that change would be the only logical solution to the ignorant views. This was his way of telling people that if they wanted life to be lived in harmony and peace they would have to accept a new point of view and open their minds to change.
Plato on the other hand viewed the situation slightly different; he believed that there are different classes of people. All people are born with their skills and evolve to different levels. He thought that there were two different classes of people, one class he referred to as the workers (today we have a working class), which are the majority, then you also have the ruling class, which are the minority. The workers are responsible for providing material needs of its republic; the ruling class is responsible for promoting and providing social justice and harmony. Plato feels that people have a purpose some are meant to use different skills that others. The working class should have no say in making difficult decisions because that is not what they are built for, they possess the ability to work with their physical gifts. Also the ruling class is not cut out for labor or physical work, they should use their minds to organize and oversee issues that are a negative impact on a society and promote justice.
In the comedy Lysistrata, Aristophanes is also trying to show that peoples desires and passions are more powerful and controlling, they have the ability to overcome almost anything. He had the women use sexual tension as a weapon on their enemy, which were the men.
He showed that sexual abstinence by the women, unnerved the men, this brought the men to the bargaining table, and the womens demands were meet. There is nothing else that could of intervened to stop the fighting except for the mens passion of a womans touch.
Plato thought and believed that things should be seen in a form. He thinks that you need to see things in this way in order to perceive the true nature of something. He tried to prove this in Allegory of the Cave; in this writing he used shadows to show that people dont always see what they think they see. In order to see the true form of something you must in essence open your eyes and see the light. For most people this is impossible to achieve, the reason this is so difficult to do is peoples passions interfere with their true perceptions. You must rid yourselves from passions and addictions to accomplish an open mind. For this reason he believes that the ability to do this is so hard that most people dont see the true form or meanings of many things. They only see the shadow but not the whole picture. It takes self-control to gain knowledge. This is the reason that only certain people are fit to rule because they can see the true dimension of objects, with this ability they can help others accomplish harmony and justice.
These two men were without a doubt extraordinary thinkers. Although they used different means to spread their thoughts they still have one thing in common, the belief that change has to occur. They both had these ideas about problems with in society and politics. They broke the barrier for people to open their minds and accept traditions to be abandoned to achieve the ideal conditions for a harmonious life. They viewed justice as an enormous step in achieving the goal of utopia. Many of their thoughts and beliefs exist and shape our lives today; from the laws we obey and follow, to the creation of our political system. These men were more that philosophers and play writers but pioneers of believing we can accomplish happiness.