The play is about a group of women, and their leader Praxagora. She has decided that the women must convince the men to give them control of Athens, because they could rule it better. The women, in the guise of men, sneak into the assembly and vote the measure, convincing some of the men to vote for it because it is the only thing they have not tried.
The women set up a government in which the state feeds, houses, and generally takes care of every Athenian. They enforce an idea of equality by allowing every man to sleep with every woman, but that the man must sleep with an ugly woman before he may sleep with a beautiful one.
There is a scene in which two men are talking. One of them is going along with the new government, giving his property to the women, and obeying their orders. The other does not wish to give up his property, but he is more than willing to take advantage of the free food.
The following scene has a pair of young lovers unable to make their tryst, as a succession of ever older and more hideous women attempt to and eventually succeed in dragging the man off to make love to him first, as laid down by the new laws.
In the play is what appears to be an exceptionally long word: Lopadotemachoselachogaleokranioleipsanodrimhypotrimmatosilphioparaomelitokatakechymenokichlepikossyphophattoperisteralektryonoptekephalliokigklopeleiolagoiosiraiobaphetraganopterygon
In reality it is a series of words stuck together, not a genuine word. It describes a fictional food dish. Liddell and Scott translate this as "name of a dish compounded of all kinds of dainties, fish, flesh, fowl, and sauces". The Greek word contains 171 letters, which far surpasses that of Shakespeare's 27-letter long word, "honorificabilitudinitatibus" in his Love's Labour's Lost V.I.
It is a transliteration of the Ancient Greek word λοπαδοτεμαχοσελαχογαλεοκρανιολειψανοδριμυποτριμματοσιλφιοκαραβομελιτοκατακεχυμενοκιχλεπικοσσυφοφαττοπεριστεραλεκτρυονοπτοκεφαλλιοκιγκλοπελειολαγῳοσιραιοβαφητραγανοπτερύγων. It is the longest word to appear in literature.
The dish has at least 16 ingredients, including:
- fish slices
- fish of the elasmobranchii subclass (a shark or ray)
- rotted dogfish or small shark's head
- a dish of several ingredients grated and pounded together
- silphium (a type of plant used in classical antiquity as a seasoning and medicine, also called "laserwort"), a type of giant fennel plant
- a kind of crab, shrimp, or crayfish
- honey poured down
- wrasse (or thrush)
- a kind of sea fish or blackbird as a topping
- wood pigeon
- domestic pigeon
- roasted head of dabchick
- hare, which could be a type of bird or sea hare
- new wine boiled down
- wing and/or fin