I should probably start this off by saying that I went to a very good school and studied Ancient History for the HSC and then went on to do it at uni for several years. Study does not seem to have given me any kind of broad general knowledge, though – there are perhaps two or three pockets of time about which I can more or less fudge a working knowledge, but beyond that I smile and nod.
Probably with this in mind it should not surprise me that my brain attempts to fill in its many gaps when ancient things come up in conversation.
About a week ago, maybe longer, after breakfast on a weekend Julia mentioned Lysistrata. “Is that the one were the ladies refuse to put out?”, I might have asked. Maybe I didn’t even know that much and Julia just filled me in. But as soon as it entered my mind, I could only think of it as a prequel to the Rape of the Sabines.
Now, I should add that pretty much my only knowledge of that series of events comes from this educational film.
This is ‘Sobbin’ Women’, from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. I think ‘Least, that’s what Plutarch said’ might be the best line in any musical ever. Yes, Adam did just tell his brothers to kidnap wives because really, no means yes.*
The two stories fit quite neatly together if one ignores some crucial aspects.
LADIES: Okay, chaps, we’re sick to death of you running off to war. No more of that, or no more of this. [They gesticulate]
MENFOLK: Screw you bitchez. We know you love it. We’ll be here when you decide to crawl back, gagging for it. [They wait]
LADIES: [Raise eyebrows, look at their watches, run about hiding the implements of war]
MENFOLK: Fine! Who needs you, anyway. [They storm off to war.]
Then, I think either they lose and the victors go to visit their wives, or while they’re occupied a wholly different group of men visit the town.
OTHER MENFOLK: Hay laydeez. How you doin’?
LADIES: Just fine without you. Keep walking, boyo.
OTHER MENFOLK:O rly?
LADIES: Ya, r- [They are grabbed by the OTHER MENFOLK!]
LADIES: Unhand me this instant!
OTHER MENFOLK: We wouldn’t’ve had to kidnap you if you didn’t refuse.
LADIES: OH WELL, IN THAT CASE! [They kick the men vigorously]
Time passes. The women get bored of being cranky and reflect on the fact that these men are probably no worse than their old husbands who, let’s say, died in some war.
Come to think of it, it could have happened the other way around – the men are the same but the women are different. That is, the men at the start of the story got tired of the ladies refusing to put out, wandered off ostensibly to war, then came across some other ladies and seized them.
I think I’m going to have to learn hardly anything about a bunch more historical things so I can mash them up. Ignorance helps me play!
*I would like to add that I do not endorse such a viewpoint, and nor does the film. The brothers do, in fact, kidnap women and take them back to the homestead. Because of an avalanche it is impossible for them to return. However, Adam’s** wife Millie is fairly unimpressed and orders the men to stay in the barn while the ladies stay in the attic having pillowfights. Or catfights. One of them, Dorcas, even has a sort of a Dita von Teese look about her. But they fall in love anyway. It’s really a romantic tale of Stockholm Syndrome (which I started to type as ‘stuck home syndrome’, kind of aptly).
**In the course of researching this article I discovered that there was a musical TV series made in 1982 based on this film, and Richard Dean Anderson played Adam. I like to imagine that if they got snowed in for the winter he would be able to make a snowplow out of tallow, lumber and gopher hides.