The Pot of Gold Summary by Platus

The Pot of Gold Summary by Platus



Like all of Plautus’ plays, The Pot of Gold too is set in Athens.  His comedies are a reflection of the society of his time. The characters he describes help the modern researcher to build an idea of the manner in which society functioned in Plautus’ time. The Pot of Gold gives us an insight into Roman life at that time-especially the position of the women and slaves.


LAR FAMILIARIS a Household God, as Prologue

EUCLIO a miserly old man

STAPHYLA his housekeeper

MEGADORUS his neighbour, an elderly bachelor EUNOMIA sister of Megaaorus

LYCONIDES a young man, son of Eunomia

STROBILUS, steward to Megadorus

CONGRIO a cook hired by Megadorus

ANTHRAX another cook

ASLAVE of Lyconides

PHAEDRIA (unseen) daughter of Euclio, Slaves, Cooks, and Flute girls. The scene is at Athens, outside the houses of Euclio and Megadorus. The houses are at some distance apart, and between them is a shrine of Fides (Good Faith), a small structure which can be entered by a door.

Megadorus: Megadorus, Euclio’s rich old neighbor. Scornful of marriage to a wealthy woman of high station who would squander his money and who might try to order him about, he is attracted to Phaedria because of her poverty, and he is willing to marry her without a dowry. For Lyconides’ sake, he gives up his marriage plans so that his nephew may have her. The playwright uses Megadorus as a mouthpiece for satirizing rich women and their expensive tastes.


Megadorus’ sister, who wishes him to marry and father children. She later intercedes for Lyconides so that Phaedria may marry him rather than Megadorus. Lyconides: Lyconides, Eunomia’s son, in love with Phaedria, whom he deflowered while drunk and whom he wishes to marry. He confesses his deed to Eunomia and asks her aid in getting Megadorus to let him marry Phaedria. Thinking Euclio has discovered his guilt, he confesses and begs forgiveness, only to be thought confessing the theft of Euclio’s gold. He recovers the gold from the real thief, returns it, and gets both Phaedria and the gold with Euclio’s blessing.


Staphyla, an old slave belonging to Euclio. Aware of Phaedria’s pregnancy and wishing to help her, Staphyla worries about the discovery of the girl’s condition. Phaedria: (FEE-dree-uh), Euclio’s young daughter, who is favorably regarded by her household god because of her devotion to him and her gifts honoring him. Pregnant by Lyconides, she bears his child and marries him afterward. Phaedria does not appear in the action of the play, but her offstage voice is once heard calling for the nurse during the pains of childbirth.

Farce: A dramatic work that makes use of bawdy. It makes use of exaggeration.





Plautus (254-184 B.C.): Life and Literary Works Not much is known exactly about the life of Plautus. Titus Maccius Plautus was supposed to have his birth in 254 B.C. in Sarsina, Umbria, in present day Italy. As a young boy, he left his village and joined a travelling theatre group. It is believed that he somehow reached Rome in course of time, where he began to work as a stage assistant and actor. He is even said to have worked as a carpenter on the sets, in the preparation or projection of stage-materials.

Titus Maccius Plautus was no scholar. Nothing is known about his schooling and bearing. But somehow, he was drawn to the Greek theatre and the Greek New Comedy, especially the comedy of Menander. He joined the Roman army as a soldier and travelled across Southern Italy. He returned to become a trader, but was not successful. He lost all his merchandise at the sea and, at the age of forty-five, as supposed, to have been reduced to such poverty that he was forced to become a miller-one who would go from house to house, grinding corn for his customers using a hand-mill.

While he was such a hand-miller, Plautus began to write comedies in the style of Menander. He wrote his earliest plays, Addictus and Saturio at that time. His comedies proved successful and he soon became a full-time dramatist. Plautus first preferred to rework Menander’s plays, instead of just translating them. He introduced local Roman colour in those plays. Of course, he borrowed the plot as well as characters from the original play, but in a Roman setting, environment and name. He also introduced music, song and dance in the plays.

Today, his plays are almost lost as very little of the Roman comedy has remained for the modern world to study. Plautus is supposed to have written more than 130 plays, but only 21 of them are extant in the present age. The plays, written in Latin, and are possibly the earliest works of Roman literature. Some of his most famous works are The Pot of Gold, The Menaechmi, Stichus, Amphitryon and The Swaggering Soldier. Along with Terence, he remained the other renowned author of the Roman Comedy. His death possibly took place in 184 B.C.

2. Plautus: His Dramatic Artistry

Plautus belonged to no aristocracy nor had any high literary heritage. He was made a dramatist, of course of repute, by time and experience. The original creative dramatic talent could hardly be discerned in him. His dramatic capability was formed and fostered by the influence from his eminent Greek predecessors.

The most potential influence on the dramatist in Plautus is found , Menander. Menander was the most famous playwright of the Greek New comedy, the author of more than a hundred plays who had won several prizes in the Lenaia festival. He wrote around 320 B.C. a number of plays. Of his plays now yet extant, some are known through their influence on the two celebrated Roman comic authors-Plautus and Terence. These playwrights not only translated, but adapted, Menander’s plays to suit their audience.

Some of his most well-known plays are The Grouch or Dyscolus, The Arbitration or Epitrepontes and The Girl from Samos or Samia. His works remain only in fragments, and Dyscolus is the only play that survives in its entirety. His plays are enlivened with a realistic view of social life and common emotion of the average people. Many Roman playwrights imitated Menander, and chief among them were Terence and Plautus. Terence’s Eunuchus, Timorumenos, Andria and Adelphi are all said to have been based on Menander’s work. Plautus’s The Bacchides and Stichus are based on Menander’s The Double-Deceiver and Botherly-Loving Men.

Though mainly influenced by the Greek dramatists, Plautus’s plays show enough of his own originality in conception and execution. He is nowhere found to follow his Greek masters blindly. After all, he wrote for the Roman audience. His audiences mostly comprised the noisy, ill-educated masses, with their rustic manners and vulgar practices.

But Plautus made his plays rightly suitable for his audience. He wrote in his plays and in plain words, too, easily convincing and enjoyable stories. His plots and characters seem to belong to his time and society, not of high people, but of the humble and common people of the then Roman society. The plot as well as the prologue of his plays, though inspired by the foreign literary masters, presents contemporary allusions as also environments.

The matter, chosen by Plautus, as the subject of his plays, and the characters, presented by him, were all familiar and dear to his audience, and consisted of the common Roman people.

Though Menander’s influence is found immense on Plautus, yet his plays have their own entity and quality. His comedy is mostly situational, with a lot of complications in the dramatic action. Such complications are hardly serious and may arise from slight incidents, such as mistaken identities, deliberate concealment of the right sort of information, and even the wicked plays of some foulsome characters and suspense caused thereby.

The suspense of the play relies equally on surprises, caused by the unpredictable sudden events or the chang of situations. Of course, Plautus’s drama is not tragic but comic and pleasurable, evoking laughter and fun.

Of course, the tone of Plautus’s drama is satiric. This is in tune with the Greek comedy. The satire here is seen genial in tone and has no mischievous effect. It is rather instructive in nature. The play actually has a didactic undertone. This, whatever may be the final outcome, improves one’s mind and nature. Plautus, thus, seems to have taken a moral task to educate his audience.

Finally, as already implied, Plautus’s play is on the contemporary society of common men and women who speak in plain Latin. Though Athens mainly forms the setting of his play, Plautus is found to change the settings of his play to several places across Italy.

Plautus was extremely popular during his lifetime. His comedies were continued to be played on the Roman stage long after his death. From the beginning of the Renaissance, as a comic dramatist, he had a decisive influence on the European dramatists to come after him. His plays were translated, adopted and imitated by a host of European dramatists.

Indeed, his continuing influence on the world of drama, and north just on the western comic drama, can be seen in the famous playwrights that have followed him – mainly Shakespeare and Moliere. Although Shakespeare’s most famous adaptation has been from The Brothers Menaechmi, he does draw on Plautus for his other comic plots and). stock characters as well. In recent times, a musical comedy, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, is also based on Plautus.

3. An Introduction to Roman Comedy and Stage

 Preliterary rudiments of comedy existed in ancient Italy at an early date, in the form of Fescernine Verses (probably from the town of Fescennium or from the Latin word for ‘phallus’, from which is derived the word ‘fascinate’), which were jesting, abusive, and probably obscene. Those were chiefly associated with marriage celebrations, and vegetation and fertility rites. Although its obscenities in time led to its suppression, it left an impression, along with that related, but !

somewhat later Etruscan form of comedy, the saturae. Brought by Etruscan dancers to Rome in 364 B.C. and added to the city games or ludi (from which the word ‘ludicrous’ is derived), the saturae pleased the popular palate and became fused with other imported forms like the Atellana farces of Campagnia, which were full of stock characters. Other early dramatic form was the mime, played without males and with female roles acted by women.

In the third century B.C., the Romans came into closer contact with the Greeks of southern Italy and Sicily, especially during the first Punic War (246-241 B.C.). To the Greeks the Romans owed everything that was commonly included among the arts of life. The record of their debt lies in their language.

There was at Rome hardly a craft or profession, much less a branch of knowledge or thought, which did not draw most of its terms from the language of the Greeks. That was because from the earliest period the Romans had been in contact, directly or indirectly, with Greek neighbours, Greek traders, and very soon with Greek professional men of every kind. In short, in every cultural practice of life, including poetry and drama, the Romans learned from the Greeks.

The Roman comedy actually began in 240 B.C. when Livius Andronicus, a Greek schoolmaster, produced the first Latin version of a Greek comedy. Since the play dealt with Greek characters in their native dress and setting, it was known as a fibula palliate, or ‘Comedy in Greek dress’. All the extant comedies of Republican Rome are of this type, being based on the plots and the characters of the Greek New Comedy. This style of comedy, written by Menander, Diphilus, Philemon, and others in the fourth and third centuries before the Christian era dealt with social problems and was far more cosmopolitan than either Middle Comedy’ or the still earlier Old Comedy.

Livius Andronious’s initiative established comedy from Greek sources on the Roman stage, and for some eight years it was exploited by a series of able playwrights. Plautus was the earliest, and apparently the most voluminous, of these playwrights who devoted themselves wholly to comedy. Between him and Terence, a generation intervenes, filled by another comedian Caecilius, whose works were said to unite much of the special excellences of both.

After the death of Terence, his dramatic tread was continued on the same lines by Turpilius and others, and dwindled away little by little into the early empire. But there can be no doubt that Plautus and Terence fully represent the strength and weakness of Latin palliate. Together with the eleven plays of Aristophanes, they have been, in fact, since the beginning of the Middle Ages, the sole representatives of ancient, and the sole models for the modern comedy.

At Rome the earliest dramatic performances were associated with expiation or thanksgiving, and in the time of Plautus and Terence, they were held near the temple of a god honoured in the festival of the oc casion. The regular state occasion for the plays were: the ludi Romani in mid-September in honour of Jupiter; the ludi Plebeii in November also dedicated to Jupiter; the ludi Apollinares in July, first celebrated in 212 B.C.; and the ludi Megalenses in honour of the Great Mother first celebrated in April 204 B.C.

Indeed there was no permanent theatre in Rome until the year B.C. One of the reasons for this hostility lay in the fear of the Roman senators that it would be hard to control the criticism of the upper classes and the government’. No seats were provided for the specta tors at first, but in 194 B.C. chairs were placed for the senators in the orchestra, the semicircular space immediately in front of the stage About fifty years later, wooden benches began to be built for the aud ence as a whole, and more adequate staging was introduced. But it was not until 55 B.C. that Pompey constructed Rome’s first stone theatre.

In Plautus’s days the performances were staged on a long (abou five feet) temporary, wooden platform equipped with an altar (cf. Th Ghost) and a background which, in comedy, usually represented tw houses with a passageway between them. The stage had little depth but considerable width, which facilitated the use of artificial conven tions such as the aside and one character’s failure to notice another. It comedy, a convenient rule was that the exit to the left of the actor as he faced the audience led to the forum or heart of the town, while the exit to his right led to the harbour or to the country.

The design of the stage also influenced the Roman Comedy. Orchestra sat between the stage and the front row. The actors’ changing rooms were to the rean of the stage. The open stage had no fixed backdrop. The stage would usually represent a street in Athens and the action was fast-paced since no frequent change in backdrop was required. The wall behind the stage had three doors which facilitated the entry and exit of the players.

The spectators had no programme and did not know the identity of the characters when they first appeared. Frequently the opening scene was a monologue in which either the prologue or one of the characters (cf. Menaechmi) gave the expository material necessary for the understanding of the situation. The curtain was raised at the beginning and lowered at the close.

On the Roman stage an actor played more than one part. Five or six actors, with a doubling of the minor roles, were, therefore, sufficient to present any of Plautus’s plays. Female parts were taken by men until a later date. They seemed to have not used masks (although the point is disputed). The use of masks would facilitate the doubling of roles and make more plausible the presence on the stage of twin brothers, as in Plautus’s Menaechmi. Among the important items of the actor’s makeup were wigs-white for the aged, black for the youthful, and red for slaves.

The dress of the characters was modelled on the Greek pattern. In comedy the chief personages wore, over their tunics, the pallium, rich in material and colour, or shabby, to suit circumstances. Old gentlemen wore white and young gentlemen dark-red purple palliums. Slaves wore merely tunic and a scarf around their neck. The parasite in grey was padded exclusively to look ridiculous. Women wore a white or yellow chiton with ornamental border. The sandal of comedy made a contrast in footwear to the buskin of tragedy.

As to the management, the poet originally produced his own play. This grew less easy when poets ceased to be actors. The usage came to be that the manager of a troupe brought a piece from the composer, and contracted for its performance with aediles (Roman magistrates responsible for public buildings and also for public games) who were to give the show. The manager, a freed man himself, was the owner of most of the players. The players were slaves, liable to punishment for bad acting. The status of the actor was in consequence low. In general, his calling involved a social stigma.

The comedies were played without interruption. There were no division into Act, but short pauses in the action might have been filled by simple music provided by a flute player. The act-division in editions of Plautus is modern and arbitrary inventions of the sixteenth century It seems clear that Greek New Comedy relied on a structure of five Acts, but Plautus often ignored this in his adaptations.

In adapting Greek comedies on the Roman stage, the dramatists normally abolished the chorus, and to compensate for the loss of music, they presented much of the action of the play itself in song This technique became increasingly popular. In the later dramas) Plautus, who perfected it, lyrical passages composed in a variety metres and sung to the music of the flute, make up about a third of the comedy, while additional scenes were written in recitative verse and chanted against a soft musical background.

By omitting the chorus, the Roman dramatists were able to pres ent a continuous performance; and the emphasis on the lyrical element gave their plays a new form closely resembling that of modern musi cal comedy. But despite these changes, the Greek drama, as adapted in Rome, maintained its foreign atmosphere. The scene was laid in a Greek city, usually Athens. The characters kept their Greek names and the traditional costumes, the actors wore, were cut in the Greek styl It was necessary for the Romans to present New Comedy in this way. “Plautus and Terence are”, writes a commentator, “Menander in Ro man dress”. In other words, Roman comedy is Greek comedy in Latin.

Now in Rome an audience for drama does not exist, at all events. Literary entertainment was). concession to the taste of a small superior circle (including the nobles and magistrates who gave the shows’), and was imposed upon a somewhat impatient public, as an interlude in performances resemblink those of a modern circus. The literary incompetence and rude indispo sition of the masses were vividly exhibited in such documents as th prologue to The Captivi of Plautus, almost the sole piece in which the author seriously attempted to swim against the stream.

To please such an audience, the dialogues were even set to mu sic, like songs. Sometimes a singer came on the stage to sing a song, while the comedian merely mimed the scene. The Roman dramatists, in fact, tried to sustain the interest of their audience at all times. They introduced local colour into the play and tried to make it as topical as possible. Plautus used Athens as the scene of his plays but he picked characters, dialogues and situations which the audience would identify with and enjoy. Even though he drew his plots from Menander, his sketches of the common Roman people found great popularity. Plautus was practical in his outlook, and made sure his plays were bawdy and vulgar enough to appeal to his audience’s nature and temper, no doubt of a low standard.

4. Satire: Nature and Role and Function in Comedy

Satire, in general, means a literary composition, in verse or prose, the function of which is to expose the vices or follies of some person or persons, with the purpose of ridiculing or bantering him or them. But strictly speaking, satire is a poem, aiming at the expose of the prevalent vices or follies of society or a section of society. The objective of satire is critical, but a good satire, as noted by Dryden, has clinical and corrective effects, too. In his language, “The true end of satire is the amendment of vices by correction. And he who writes honestly is no more an enemy to the offender than the physician to the patient, when he prescribes harsh remedies to an inveterate disease”.

The inclusion of satire only to the poetic composition is, however, no more acceptable. There are to-day more forceful prose satires than poetical. Hence, the range of satire cannot be kept confined now to poetry alone.

Satire may, actually, be described as a literary form, which is designed to incite contempt, fun, or disgust at what is ridiculous or unseemly. The word has come from the Latin term ‘satura’, which originally meant a medley or miscellany. In its earliest form, satire probably meant a farce or parody.

The origin of satire is, however, found in the history of Roman literature. It has been claimed that the only literary form, invented by the Romans, is satire. The contention, however, is not very accurate. There has been the clear indication that the early Greek writers indulged in the composition which now goes after the name of satire.

There is the sufficient evidence in early Greek literature to show how the Greek masters used invective to correct and improve general and public morals. Even in the early Greek drama, the element of satire is not found absent. A fine blending of satire and poetry characterizes the mighty comic works of Aristophanes.

But satire, as a particular form of literature and a potent influence on the late European writers, is mainly a creation of the Latin masters. The inventor of satire as a characteristic poetic form, was Casius) Lucilius. He was followed by a more brilliant figure, Horace. Horace wrote several realistic, humorous and satirical poems in which he investigated and castigated social abuses. Horace’s satire, however, is not merely personal.

It bears a certain note of universality and philosophy. Next to Horace comes the name of Persius, who has displayed both philosophical outlook and literary originality in his satirical works. But, perhaps, the greatest Roman satirist is Juvenal. His originality is found to lie particularly in his introduction of a rhetorical strength and a tragic grandeur into verse satires.

Besides the satirical poems, Roman literature has some prose satires, too. The name of Seneca, famous tragedian, and Petronius are remarkable as prose satirists.

Satirical literature is found to have its growth under the Roman Comedy in particular. The presence of Satire is a specific feature in the Roman comedy and this is specifically in the dramatic works of such illustrious names as Plautus and Terence.

Satire is, no doubt, the least amusing species of the comic spirit. The very classical definition of comedy as an imitation of ridiculous characters, without involving any pain or destruction, hardly leaves much scope for its inclusion in the comie spirit. Yet, it is found predominant in a number of comedies, including the early comedies of Athens. The Old Comedies of Greece are essentially humorous and satiric and caricature different important personalities. In the Middle Comedies, the satiric spirit is extended to expose and ridicule society and social manners. In fact, early Greek comedies have an undertone of satire. The Roman Comedies, too, are found to contain satire and present, in a diverting manner, social follies and flaws along with individual deformities and eccentricities.

Satire, as noted already, may provoke laughter, and this is seen in a good many well-known comedies, even in early Greek plays. In Aristophanes, for instance, this is a distinct feature. While caricaturing the leading celebrities of his time, he offers immense fun and farce. In a Roman play, satire is well directed, although the play never ceases to delight and divert. It well caricatures the anger of thoughtless young fellows, the unnecessary cares of inquisitive old fathers and the meaningless suspicion of over-thrifty persons.

The Roman dramatist Plautus may be instance here. His ‘light scenes’ and ‘gay inventions’, his ‘delightful absurdities’ and quick embodiment of the ludicrous without malice, no doubt, produce pleasurable sensations and provoke spontaneous laughter. But, behind all this, there lies concealed the mild stroke of his satire. With all its romantic scenes and pathetic sighs, his play is subjected to the hammer of a sharp mockery and an ironical entertainment.

Plautus’s The Pot of Gold is a comedy which has its basis chiefly on humour and satire. In fact, the play is mainly marked with ironic humour that delights and pinches. This is found perceived particularly in Plautus’s portrayal of his main character Euclio. Euclio suffers from two basic deformities in his nature. These are his avarice and miserliness. The playwright mocks at his obsession with his pot of ancestral gold, which he has come to possess, rather suddenly, by the grace of the divine spirit of his family.

The pot of gold does not, however, make him happy but rather anxious and suspicious. His avarice comes out from his possession of gold. He is constantly haunted with the fear of somebody stealing his gold, and so, he goes on hiding it constantly from place to place. This avarice for gold makes him a pathetic character and this is a part of the gross folly in his character.

But this is not all. Euclio also professes to be poor. He poses himself as a miserable, poverty-stricken fellow and even goes to a place to get some charitable distribution of fund. He has a daughter of his own, but he does not care for her. He least bothers to arrange for her marriage, because he is not ready to give any dowry, necessary a daughter’s marriage then. He tries to show himself as a man in dire need and cannot spend money for any purpose. This miserliness Euclio makes him, again, somewhat rude and quarrelsome.

Others, a a result, make fun of him. He agrees to the proposal of his neighbor Megadorus, an aged man to marry his daughter, because that aged man has agreed to take no dowry from him and even to bear the cost of the marriage feast. These are all extremely laughable features and make him a most queer character. The stuart Strobulus’s account of him is quite laughable and shows him as utterly miserly and greedy.

Of course, as enunciated by Dryden, satire is not merely bit ter, pungent to make one ridiculous. No doubt, it has the penetrati effect to unmask hypocrisy, greed and other banalities in social and individual behaviour. But, at the same time, satire has an educativ value. By exposing what is grossly absurd, laughable, ludicrous and wrong, it indirectly serves to improve the morals and minds of man.

In Plautus’s play, his hero, has his final lesson at the end of the play whe he gets back his lost gold pot and makes it over to his newly wedded daughter and son-in-law. He admits that he has got a peace of ming and Plautus gives his lesson here through Megadorus: “Contentment peace of mind, and sound sleep at night, are worth more than a dozen pots of gold. This is the common lesson of a satiric play on avarice and mi serliness.

5. Adaptations of Plautus’s Plays

Earliest records of the English theatre suggest that Plautus” Miles Gloriousus, or The Swaggering Soldier was staged at Oxford University around 1522. The theatre journal of the Queens College has an entry of a “Comoedia Plauti” in 1522. The play was also enacted in 1564 by the Westminster school. Cardinal Wolsey is said to have hosted a performance of The Brothers Menaechmi at his house by the students of St. Paul’s School in 1527.

In Europe, the Renaissance introduced several adaptations of Aulularia. Giovanni Battista Gelli published The Basket, La Sporta, in Florence in 1543. In 1555, a Croatian play The Miser, by Marin Drzic, had the same plot. Ben Jonson’s The Case is Altered (1597), was also based loosely on The Pot of Gold. In Denmark, a play Karrig Nidding, or The Stingy Miser by Hieronymus Justesen Ranch also picked up the story-line of Plautus’s original. In the 16th century, Warenar, a Dutch play, and Aulularia, a German adaptation, were made.

Yet, by far, the most popular adaptation of Plautus’s Aulularia has been Moliere’s (1624-1673) French play, L’Avare which was performed in 1668. Even the English Poet Laureate Thomas Shadwell (1642-1692), made famous for his bad poetry by John Dryden (1631-1700) in Mac Flecknoe, is said to have modeled his The Miser on this play. In the 19th century, the famous English novelist and dramatist Henry Fielding adapted the play as The Miser in 1823.


An Introductory Note

The Pot of Gold, one of the popular comedies of Plautus, seems to have its ancestry in some Greek comedy, which inspired and plied the dramatist concerned as his model to pursue. The play might have been indebted to the famous Greek master of the New Comedy, Menander here, although there is no exact evidence of it. But the main themes of the play-avarice and miserliness-are found satirized in a good many plays of Menander and as such, it is not unlikely that some of Menander’s plays might have been followed here and presented as Plautus’s own in his plays.

The Pot of Gold is a comedy, for it ends in a happy wedding. At the same time, it is a satire to expose two recognizable human follies-avarice and miserliness.

About the date of writing the play, there is nothing available except the time of the death of Plautus, which was 184 B.C. The play must have, therefore, been written before that year.

Like all the plays of Plautus, the setting of The Pot of Gold is in Athens, though the original language in which the play is written, is Latin. His characters in the play also resemble the Athenians, and much of the social manners and practices prevalent then in Athens are found expressed in the play.

As stated already, The Pot of Gold is set in the city of Athens, though the themes and issues and the people, highlighted in the play, are all Romans. This is a comedy, as stated already, though, as noted also, modelled after some Greek comedy.

The Pot of Gold is a hilarious comedy with a human theme of love, marriage and extreme avarice and miserliness at extremity. Of course, the play has some moments of sadness and lamentations, but these are few and far between and rather serve to evoke satire and fun. The humour of the play, rather satiric humour, arises from the conduct of the main character Euclio mainly.


The play has a lot of characters; of them, mention may be made of the following-Euclio, Phaedria, Lyconides, Strobilus and Megadorus. Euclio is the chief character and he is the centre of attraction of the play. Phaedria is his daughter, whose marriage the play celebrates, but she is not presented on the stage and has not taken any active part in the action of the play. Lyconides is the lover of Phaedria. His sexual relation with Phaedria leads to an unhappy pregnancy which is not known to her father. But Lyconides is frank and good enough to decide to marry the woman and finally does so.

Megadorus is a neighbor of Euclio. He is a prosperous man with a good mind and a sympathetic heart. Strobilus is the steward to Megadorus, who serves to expose what is ludicrous and funny in the main character of the play, Euclio. There is also a divine character in the play, that is Lar Familiaris, the household god of Euclio’s family. Of course, there are other characters, too, including slaves and servants of Euclio, Megadorus and Lyconides.

The scene is at Athens, outside the houses of Euclio and Megadorus. The houses are at some distance apart, and between them is a shrine of Fides (Good Faith), a small structure which can be entered by a door.

2. The Plot of the Play

The Pot of Gold is a hilarious satiric comedy. Though it ends as a happy comedy, with wedding bells more tuneful, the main motive here is to expose the human vices of avarice and miserliness. The plot of the play centers around Euclio, an aged person, who is mean and greedy, poses to be poor, though possessed of a pot of gold, which he is anxious to hide from others’ eyes.

The plot of the play runs thus. Euclio, a mean, miserly, old man has got a pot of gold, no doubt ancestral, by the kindness of the family deity, Lar Familiaris. He is anxious to hide this pot of gold from everyone and keeps it hidden from place to place to secure it against any theft or loss, This effort to preserve his gold pot makes him anxious, suspicious, petulant and quarrelsome. He even shows himself to be poor to make people believe that he has nothing of gold so that the may not think of any pot of gold with him. 

Euclio has a daughter, Phaedria, who is in love with a youn man belonging to the family of his close neighbor, Megadorus. In their meeting on a festival occasion, an accidental sexual union has made Phaedria pregnant, much to the discomfort of the daughter and the housekeeper of the family Staphyla, who is extremely affection ate to her, although she is very often rudely treated by Euclio, out of suspicion and fear, to lose his pot of gold.

Megadorus, an aged gentleman of riches, ease and good nature under the provocation of his sister, Eunomia, agrees to marry Phaedria He goes to Euclio and asks for his daughter’s hand. Euclio agrees, after much talks and arguments, on getting the assurance that Megadorus will not demand for any sort of dowry. Megadorus is kind and sympathetic enough to agree to marry the daughter and arrange the wedding feast a his own cost and sends his servants to Euclio’s house for the purpose.

Megadorus’s men enter Euclio’s home to make the preparation for the wedding feast. Naturally, they talk loosely and loudly while engaging in their work. At that time Euclio is not present. But he can never get out of door for a long time lest someone may find out his pot of gold. So he returns in no time. He hears the noises made in his house and apprehends that some persons are attempting to take away his pot of gold. He hurriedly comes back and hits one of the servants) as he thinks that they are after robbing his pot of gold.

Thereafter he comes across Megadorus, who is much surprise at the peculiar conduct of his future father-in-law. But he is really good, honest man who is strongly opposed to the system of dowry and wants to help others in the matter. Euclio overhears him and realises that Megadorus is a thoroughly honest man and has no intention to rob his gold.

Strangely enough, Euclio is scared for the loss of his gold. He is anxious for its safe custody somewhere else than his own house. He fi nally decides to keep the pot of gold hidden in the shrine of Good Faith that is situated on an empty space between his house and Megadorus’s.

But a slave of Lyconides, the seducer of Phaedria, secretly notices this and removes the pot. Very soon Euclio returns to the shrine to find the pot lost. He goes crazy and rushes out, as his young pregnant daughter goes into the labour pain.

On learning the state of his beloved Phaedria, Lyconides talks to his mother who is the sister of Megadorus. She tries to dissuade his brother from marrying the maid who is going to give birth to Lyconides’s baby. The brother agrees and admits to settle the marriage of Lyconides in his place. But he instructs the young fellow to restore Euclio’s pot of gold from the slave by releasing him from slavery.

The pot of gold is restored to Euclio who agrees to get his daughter married to Lyconides. So the lovers are in a happy wed-lock. Euclio, however, acts strangely thereafter. He gives the pot of gold to his son-in-law and daughter after the marriage and thereby releases himself from all sorts of anxiety and depression.

3. The Social and Moral Aspects of the Play

The Pot of Gold is a comedy, rather a satiric comedy in which Plautus presents an amusing setting of human follies and vices. His purpose is to expose and ridicule what is grossly wrong and laughable. But in his aim to satirise and make fun of individuals’ defaults, he does not ignore the social life and trend of the time to which they belong.

Like all of Plautus’s plays, The Pot of Gold, too, is set in Athens. The people presented are Athenian. Yet, the themes and issues that are highlighted in the play are Roman. His comedies appear to be a replica, rather a reflection of the society of his time. His characters and their conduct help to build an idea of the manner in which the Roman society functioned in Plautus’s time.

The Pot of Gold gives an insight into Roman life at that time and the social practices in particular. Plautus’s society, as presented, is not high, aristocratic. This is rather of low, common life. His penetrative power is straight and clear and what is mean and low in the then social life, especially the position of women and slaves in the then Rome, are shown in the play.

First, women did not enjoy much freedom in Roman times. Their position can be well guessed from a comment of a Roman writer “Our ancestors, in their wisdom, considered that all women, because of their innate weakness, should be under the control of guardians” He actually means the eternal sub-ordination of women to men. So after the father, it was the husband’s duty to be a woman’s guardian) In the absence of either, the state recommended a male relative who would be appointed as a guardian. Girls were given the same education as boys, but only girls from rich families continued their education beyond primary stage. Women, in fact, had no say in their own matter

Marriages were arranged, and girls were given dowries. The dowry system was a prevalent social evil. According to the Roman) custom, the marriages of girls were arranged at a young age but the actual wedding took place when she became an adult. Interestingly, marriage gave the Roman women immense freedom. A Roman wife would be her husband’s companion at all social ceremonies. She would be seated next to him at banquets and shared control over children, slaves and the household. Often it was she who supervised the slaves. But she must always remain sub-ordinate to her husband.

Slavery was a common evil in the Roman society. Slaves were made by either capturing from the losing side of a war or bought from provinces, like Turkey. Much of the Roman economy depended on the exploitation of slaves. The public works were managed by the slaves. Educated slaves helped in the administration and private industries. Slaves helped in the household matters. They could also be gladiators, and most actors of the Roman stage were slaves. They were considered a sign of prosperity for the owner, and even people with modest means owned slaves. Some households even entrusted the management of the household affairs to the slaves. The Pot of Gold bears out enough evidence in the matter.

Plautus’s play prompts a number of moral principles necessary to keep life happy and peaceful. Money does not make life happy, unless one knows how to use it. In this respect, Megadorus, a character in the play, points out to his nephew, Lyconides that money is never to be valued for its own sake. It is to be employed for winning happiness not only for one’s ownself but for others, too. He advises his nephew that if the slave, who took away the pot of gold, is ready to return that, in exchange for his freedom, he must welcome the proposal, because this is to bring happiness to three persons, Euclio, the slave and Lyconides himself.

The dramatist also propagates his view that greed for gold brings unnecessary annoyance and restlessness. Euclio’s excessive attachment to his pot of gold is actually haunted with the fear of losing his gold. It is only by giving that pot of gold to his newly wedded daughter and her husband as a dowry that he restores himself to mental peace and contentment. Megadorus’s parting remark in this respect is worth quoting and following:

“Contentment, peace of mind and sound sleep at night are worth more than a dozen pots of gold”. A good satire is amusing as well as instructive. Plautus’s The Pot of Gold well bears this out. The play, indeed, is a sturdy picture of the then social situation and the moral requirements for a happy and peaceful life.

4. The Comic Spirit in the Play / Sources of Comedy ‘The Pot of Gold’

Plautus’s ‘The Pot of Gold’ is an enjoyable comedy. It is a comedy not simply because of the happy end of two lovers in a marriage but also of the presence of the plenty of humour and fun, with satire finely intermingled. The principal source of the comic spirit of the play is its principal character Euclio. That old fellow, the father of a neglected daughter, is absorbed with a pot of gold which he has suddenly come to possess in his own house by the grace of the household god Lar Familliaris.

That pot of gold is the root of all problems and restlessness. He is constantly haunted with the fear of losing this pot. He grows, as a result, suspicious, quarrelsome and often loses his temper. He least bothers about the state of his only daughter. He pretends his poverty, grows extremely miserly and tries to present himself as a miserable man, lest anyone should think him rich with a pot of gold.

The comedy in the play arises mainly from the dramatic irony of the action concerning Euclio. Despite all his obsessive efforts to protect his pot of gold, this is somehow stolen from him. Funnily, it t his own fault that Lyconides’s slave gets his hands on his pot of gold and steals it.

Comical situations also arise in the play from the dialogue. Witt descriptions of characters and recalling past incidents by Strobilus. Euclio and other characters add to the humour of the play. Euclio). description of Staphyla in an early scene is demeaning, no doubt, but gives rise to much laughter and fun.

The main source of the comic spirit of the play, however, remain in Euclio who, in his frantic attempts at preserving his gold and his suspicions of the others proves himself foolish and laughable.

The play is replete with instances of comic irony, when there it a gap between the dialogues and the intention of the character and the subsequent action. For instance, the exchange of words between Euclio and Lyconides is a classic example of Plautus’s wonderful dramati irony. Lyconides meets Euclio, who laments the loss of his gold The former misinterprets it, and assumes that Euclio is talking abou, Phaedria.

He then admits that he is the cause of Euclio’s unhappiness which leads to Euclio’s suspecting him to be the thief. But Lyconides actually means the pregnancy of his daughter Phaedria, caused by him Ultimately the pot of gold is recovered by the young lover from his slave by releasing the latter from slavery.

On getting back the lost pot of gold, Euclio strangely changes. His lust for gold passes away. He agrees to the marriage of his daughter with the repentant youth and presents his pot of gold to the couple as a marriage dowry.

So the comic spirit becomes full of joy and fun. The satiric tone of the play has a moral lesson that the lust for gold is a curse of life.

5. The Soliloquy in The Pot of Gold

One of the fundamental tasks of a dramatist is to reveal the inner world of a character. This is no easy task. At the same time, it is essential to the understanding of a play and different characters. The task was particularly difficult in the earlier age. The property of the stage was then extremely inadequate. The background music, as a revealer of the thought or feeling of a character, was yet to develop. Consequently, the old dramatist had immense difficulty in the matter of revealing the psychology of his men and women.

The dramatist’s only resource to reveal a character in order to bring out his mental mechanism is the use of dialogue as a substitute for the direct analysis as well as commentary of a novelist. But the scope of the ordinary dialogue is rather inadequate to bring out the hidden recesses and the secret springs of the conduct of a person, particularly of a complex character, whose motive or objective may well be concealed from other characters.

To comprehend fully and clearly the motive of action of such a person, the knowledge of the interior of his or her character is necessary. The dramatist is to dissect his men and women, but he has not the easy means of the novelist. What he does here is to allow them to do the work of dissection themselves. Those men and women think aloud to themselves, and their expressed thought is overheard by the audience.

This expression of the inner thought, which is overhead by the audience, is known popularly as the ‘soliloquy’. This may be generally defined as thinking of himself or herself by one dramatic character. It is the device which a dramatist may well employ to analyse and scrutinize, like a novelist, a character. The soliloquy is the only exception to the use of dialogue for the purpose of revealing the basic nature of a man or woman. Of course, the term ‘soliloquy’ here includes the soliloquy proper as well as one of its particular variants- ‘aside’; which is, in fact, a short soliloquy.

Although a hilarious comedy, The Pot of Gold, has several soliloquies. They serve to reveal much the nature of the speaker. At the beginning of the play, Euclio’s soliloquy informs the audience of his intention to pretend to be poor in order to get a donation. His pretension on poverty for the safety of his pot of gold is also revealed. This gives the audience an insight into Euclio’s true nature.

The slave who steals the pot of gold, too, makes a long soliloquy when he enters. His soliloquy not just acquaints the audience with his nature, but also anticipates some twists and turns in the action of the play. Megadorus’s speech about dowry can also be classified as a soliloquy. Of course, in this case, the soliloquy has a listener on the stage. Unknown to Megadorus, Euclio overhears his views on dowry and decides that it would suit him to marry his daughter to Megadorus. In this way, the soliloquy in the play is found useful to move the action of the play forward.

6. The Significance of the Title of the Play

The title of Plautus’s play is The Pot of Gold. This is significant enough, so far as the theme and the moral of the play is concerned. As a matter of fact, in the play The Pot of Gold, a real pot of gold, comes out of the grace of the family God, Lar Familiaris. This pot of gold suddenly makes Euclio a rich person to feel happy, but the effect is just the reverse. The pot of gold becomes the cause of his concern and anxiety, his suspicion and bad temper. He is constantly haunted with the apprehension that this may be stolen at any time.

So, he tries to hide it from other’s eyes and shifts its hiding place constantly, lest no one should know anything of the same. But this is not all. It also leads him to pretend himself as a poor man; his miserly nature is, thereby, revealed. Euclio’s desperate desire to protect this pot of gold makes him restless and suspicious of everyone around him. In fact, he makes himself an object of pity and criticism by his possession of that pot of gold. Thus, the pot of gold controls the entire action of the play till the resolution of the problem by Euclio’s decision to get rid of the same.

The comic fun in the play, as already seen, revolves round the pot of gold. There is also a comic irony in the incident in which Euclio himself facilitates the slave of Lyconides to access to the pot and take it away. This leads to his pathetic lamentation, despite his daughter’s agonized state caused by the labour pain of the birth of her illegitimate baby.

However, the happy end of the play follows from the same pot of gold. By releasing his slave from slavery, Lyconides restores the stolen pot from his slave. The pot of gold is returned by him to Euclio, who agrees to the marriage of his daughter, Phaedria with Lyconides for his service to him in the matter of the pot of gold.

The play ends happily in the restoration of the pot of gold and the marriage of two young lovers, but the action of Euclio thereafter is strange. He does no more want to keep the pot of gold with him, but rather, gives it to the new couple as a marriage gift. His almost concluding speech in the last Act shows his realization of the moral that the pot of gold happens to be a curse and not a blessing to him – “Day or night, I’ve not had a moment’s peace with that treasure on my mind.

Every hour I have thought of some thief nosing round my house, some accident exposing the Whereabouts of the hidden hoard. A dozen times a day I have tried to find new hiding places for it, dug pits in my garden, pulled up the hearth-stones, looked for secret crannies in the rafters. A dozen times a night I have waked to hear a spade scratch or a lock turned. Now at last – I’m going to sleep.”

The moral aspect of the play is, thus, echoed in the term ‘the pot of gold’ which occupies the central position in the action of the play. Hence, the title of the play seems quite just and appropriate, and perfectly reflects the content as well as the tone of the play.

7. Plot Construction

How far the plot in The Pot of Gold is Plautus’s original creation, is a matter of doubt. The Greek New Comedy happened to be a major influence on Plautus. It is quite natural that he borrowed a number of materials from his Greek predecessors, the authors of New Comedy, particularly Menander. It is apprehended that Plautus owes to Menander’s play Dyskolos for the materials of his The Pot of Gold.

Nevertheless, The Pot of Gold possesses a well-constructed plot. Even though the conclusion of the play is found missing, the subsequent translators are found to have reconstructed the ending of the play with aptness and ability.

The Pot of Gold has a very compact structure and reveals a good deal of Plautus’s skill to construct his plot. There is no digression to distract the audience from the main line of the story. The major characters are well presented to keep the story of the play alive. Even the minor characters, such as the steward and the cooks, throw some useful light on Euclio’s peculiar habits and thereby contribute to the comic element of the play.

In fact, Plautus’s plot is single, which develops in a most convincing manner, without any deviation or digression. Its main theme is single and clear, and that is the human folly of avarice and miserliness. The play is largely built around one character, Euclio, whose show of poverty and love for gold remain interesting all through. All the situations and the events of the play are intended to ridicule those two follies of Euclio. Nothing hinders the advancement of the plot which develops at a brisk space to hold the attention of the audience) throughout.

Of course, there is another aspect of the plot of the play. This is Phaedria’s affair with Lyconides. The affair is not much shown, but, indicated in the pregnancy of the girl who is never seen on the stage) but whose cries, under the labour pain, is heard.

It is, however, in the happy union of the lovers in a marriage tie that turns the play into a pleasant comedy. Of course, this may be taken as a subsidiary plot, but it is closely associated with the main plot. The hero of the main plot gets his final relief and peace of mind by presenting his pot of gold as the wedding gift to the new couple.

Finally, as in the Roman plays, Plautus strictly maintains the three unities of Time, Place and Action in his play, The Pot of Gold. The action of the play is single that revolves around the theme of avarice and miserliness. The entire action of the play seems to take place with a short span of a few hours. The place remains always the same – a small part of a local street of Athens, where the houses of Euclio and Megadorus are situated, with an open space for the shrine of the god of good faith.

8. Characterisation in the Play-Stock Characters in The Pot of Gold

In a comic drama, the presence of stock characters forms a specific feature. A ‘stock character’ is a person, a man or a woman, a common social stereotype introduced to add to the comic elements of the play. Of course, some playwrights are found to have used stock characters to serve other purposes, too, such as to farther the action or to act as foils to other characters, no doubt the main characters.

Generally the stock characters have typical names or qualities and serve to represent a type, and thereby, enables the audience to recognize this sort of characters. In ancient Roman comedies, the miser, the intelligent servant and the braggard soldier are found as the common stock characters. In the Elizabethan comedies, even of Shakespeare, are found such stock characters as Touchstone, Bottom and Feste.

One of the major theatrical devices, found in Plautus to generate the comic spirit, is the presence of some stock characters. Euclio, as the old miser, is a typical stock character, although the dramatist has used him as the protagonist of the play. Plautus’s presentation of his character is in a genial light. He is, no doubt, shown as greedy and miserly. His behaviour in the matter of his pot of gold is definitely ludicrous and liable to be satirized.

Yet, Plautus redeems him in the end, when he learns a lesson and appears to be just a good-hearted person, misguided by his greed for cursed gold. His first reaction to his neighbour, Megadorus’s marriage proposal for his daughter, is suspicious for that he may be after possessing his pot of gold. But, he gladly agrees to accept his proposal on learning that Megadorus does not demand any dowry, but even offers to pay the entire expenses of the wedding ceremony.

Of course, Euclio is finally a changed man when the robbed pot of gold is restored to him. He readily offers this as a wedding gift to his daughter and son-in-law, and thereby, feels himself relieved from the constant anxiety and worries of losing his gold.

The old lusty bachelor Megadorus is Plautus’s another stock character. He generates much laughter as the lusty old man thinks of marrying a young and beautiful lady. A major part of the fun and humour of the play comes from the lavish and elaborate preparations made by him for the wedding ceremony. Plautus manages to draw a sort of parallelism between Euclio’s lust for gold and Megadorus’s lust for a contented mind at the end of the day. Like Euclio, Megadorus, too, is shown to be kind-hearted when he allows Lyconides and Phaedria to be happily married with the gift of the pot of gold from Euclio.

The third typical stock character of Plautus’s play is the intelligent servants of different persons. Staphyla is Euclio’s maid. She is, however, shown to be far more compassionate and sensible than her master. Throughout the action of the play, she shows her concern for Euclio’s increasingly strange behavior and for Phaedria’s pregnancy Lyconides’s slave, too, is a clever character, who is able to steal Euclio’s gold, despite the latter’s all precautions.

This slave is a comic figure. He is a stock character – the intelligent servant who gets the better of his masters. His soliloquy on stage – as he waits for Lyconides – will reveal what he thinks of himself. He enumerates the ways in which he has made himself useful to his master. Along with the other minor characters, like the steward and the cooks, the slaves’ speeches provide the audience with a lot of amuse ment. Lyconides’s slave plays a significant role in the development of the plot. He overhears Euclio speaking aloud about the location of his treasure and steals it, leading to Euclio’s total breakdown.

This incident is instrumental to Lyconides winning Euclio favour, when he manages to retrieve Euclio’s gold and return it to him through Megadorus. This makes Euclio readily accept him as Phaedria’s suitor.

The use of the slave character shows Plautus’s originality. Plautus was known to have adapted Greek plays, yet it is in the characters that he shows his originality when he brings in nuances which were not present in the original. Plautus employs different kinds of slaves in the play. There are eight instances of the “intriguing slave” in the play, except Strobilus who, however, falls in the category of the loyal servant, who is ever helpful to his master.

9. The Protagonist of the Play Euclio-his Character, Comical Satire Evoked by Him

In a great Greek or Roman play, a protagonist is the most important character-the hero or the heroine-who draws at once attention and admiration. Round him or her revolves the entire action and he or she holds the audience spellbound by his or her uniqueness in character. But Plautus’s The Pot of Gold has the protagonist of a quite unlikable and despicable character. This is Euclio, who is definitely the central figure in the comedy. Round him the plot of the play revolves and the purpose of a protagonist as a major character of the play is well served by him.

But Plautus’s play The Pot of Gold is not a great tragedy like King Oedipus or The Trojan Women. It is a comedy, rather a satiric comedy, written after the great masters of the New Comedy of Greece. Plautus’s play seems to show a mean man with an obsession for money. He is the type of greedy, miserly man for whom the most important possession is the pot of gold indicating riches. This very pot of gold governs his mind and action. He carries his frugality and thriftiness to such an absurd length as to make himself a comic figure thoroughly. The Greek comedy (rather the New Comedy) presents such comical misers, and Plautus here seems to follow his great Greek predecessors.

This strange protagonist has come across a pot of gold which originally had been buried inside the house by his grandfather, with a request to the family-deity Lar Familiaris to protect and guard it. The family deity, out of compassion and appreciation for Euclio’s daughter Phaedria, made that pot of gold available to Euclio, and that very matter brings about a total change in Euclio’s mentality.

The possession of a pot of gold definitely makes Euclio rich and provides him with the means to live with comfort and peace and without any anxiety about any financial distress. But strangely enough, the situation becomes totally reverse. The pot of gold does not bring any sense of relief or comfort. This rather makes him full of anxieties and worries. In fact, he becomes over-anxious to protect the pot of gold from any kind of theft or burglary. He never takes any gold coin from it but is rather anxious to keep the thing entirely safe.

As a result, he suspects everyone he sees and thinks that everyone is looking after or trying to take away his pot of gold. At the very outset of the play, he is found to turn out to the maidservant who manages his household affairs, as he wants to have another look at the gold pot and be sure that it lies intact where he has kept it hidden. Whenever he goes out anywhere, he constantly turns back in no time to his own house for the purpose of seeing that the pot of gold is in safety. Euclio himself is not at all unaware of his too much worry about the matter as he himself admits – “The damn stuff is driving me of head with worry?

Euclio’s conduct in regard to this pot of gold makes him not only mean but also laughable. He poses to be a very poor man so that nobody may suspect him to possess a pot of gold. He even goes to a ceremony of the donation of money to the needy people by the chair man of his ward, only to show that he is poor. He leads a very miserly life and expresses his discontent to have no donation for which he has gone. All this, however, makes him unnecessarily mean, suspicious and quarrelsome.

Euclio has a daughter, but he is no affectionate, dutiful father. He is heedless to his daughter’s marriage on the plea that he has no capacity for paying any dowry, required for the purpose. He even agrees to get his daughter married to his aged neighbour Megadorus on the assurance that he will have to pay no dowry. He is even not ready to incur any expense on the marriage feast, of course on the plea of hi poverty. But his kind neighbour, guessing his nature, assures him o his own readiness to bear all the expenses of the marriage feast.

Strangely enough, when Megadorus’sends his men to arrange for the necessary marriage feast, Euclio gets excited and apprehends tha those people are after his gold. He even strikes one of them angrily out of suspicion. Indeed, Euclio makes himself miserly, mean and miserable by his fondness for the protection of his pot of gold which is actually meant for providing him with the happy provisions of life.

But Euclio does not succeed to protect his pot of gold ultimately, He attempts to shift its hiding place constantly and, in course of doing this, once a slave of Lyconides detects the place and removes that pot of gold. When his loss is detected, he grows almost fanatical and runs about here and there, without caring for nothing else.

At this very time his daughter Phaedria, who had have a secret affair with Lyconides on a festive occasion, has become pregnant and is crying in labour pain. But her father does not care for that. His mind is all after that pot of gold.

However, the pot of goid is finally recovered, under the instruction of Megadorus to his nephew Lyconides, who is the seducer of Phaedria. Lyconides recovers the pot of gold from his slave by releasing the latter from slavery. The pot of gold is recovered to Euclio with the proposal to get his daughter married to Lyconides, instead of his maternal uncle Megadorus. Euclio agrees to this change of bridegroom. After the solemnisation of this marriage, he acts, however, strangely. He gives the entire pot of gold to the newly married couple with a plain admission of his previous follies and worries :

“Day or night, I’ve not had a moment’s peace with that treasure on my mind. Every hour I have thought of some thief nosing round my house, some accident exposing the whereabouts of the hidden hoard. A dozen times a day I have tried to find new hiding places for it, dug pits in my garden, pulled up the hearth-stones, looked for secret crannies in the rafters. A dozen times a night I have waked to hear a spade scratch or a lock turned. Now at last – I’m going to sleep.”

10. The Portrayal of Megadorus

Plautus’s protagonist Euclio cuts a very sorry figure in the play and becomes the subject of contempt and mockery for his avarice and miserliness. He remains, no doubt, the protagonist of the play for his importance in the action of the play and finally, has a good lesson to change himself. But this lesson of improvement of Euclio is instrumental to the words and action of his neighbour, Megadorus.

Megadorus is his close neighbour and a middle-aged gentleman of a good sense and an honest intention. He stands as a foil to the protagonist by his strength of mind and nobility of feeling. He wins admiration and respect by his sturdy common sense and nobility of nature, while Euclio proves abnormally mean, miserly and suspicious, Megadorus is a middle-aged man. He seems to be the wisest and most practical personality of the play. He is a bachelor, who does not want to get married.

Any proposal of marriage is shocking and fearful to him. When his sister Eunomia presses him to get married, he expresses his sense of shock by exclaiming – “Murder! Help!” He frankly admits that, to get married seems to him to be a matter like to be beaten by someone. However, at the persuasion of his sister, he promises to get married in order to give a grand wedding feast to his guests.

Yet, Megadorus does not accept his sister’s proposal to marry a middle-aged woman. He himself is elderly and so he fears that an elderly wife may make his domestic life undesirable. He, however, agrees to marry the daughter of his neighbour, Euclio, who is poor and he wants to marry such a maid without taking any dowry.

Megadorus is opposed to the practice of taking dowry, then prevailed in the society. He has a humanistic social outlook on the matter. In one of his soliloquies, he talks in praise of the practice to marry without taking any dowry.

Megadorus actually acts as he preaches. He goes to his neighbour with the proposal, who initially suspects him and fears that the fellow wants to grab his pot of gold. But, finally, that miserly Euclio agrees to the marriage of his daughter with him on condition that he will have not to pay any dowry.

Megadorus is really a kind-hearted man and realises his neighbour’s plight. He, therefore, proposes to bear the cost of the wedding feast on the occasion. So, the marriage is settled.

Megadorus is a high-hearted man and suffers from no prejudice or unnecessary mania. When his sister approaches him again to plead to him for withdrawing his proposal to marry the daughter of Euclio, he initially gets vexed and annoyed. But when he learns the whole matter about the relation between his nephew Lyconides and Euclio’s daughter Phaedria, he readily agrees to change his mind and proposes to Euclio, the marriage of the two on the same conditions as before.

But, as he loses his pot of gold, stolen by the slave of Lyconides, Euclio, almost fanatical, refuses to have any marriage of his daughter, although she is in the final stage of pregnancy. As Lyconides knows the man who has stolen the same pot of gold, he promises to Euclio that he will return the same on condition that the latter will give him what he desires.

As Lyconides meets Megadorus to seek his advice in the matter of the recovery of the pot of gold, he says that he knows that his slave has stolen it and he is to recover this from him. Megadorus now gives him some sensible advice. He suggests that he should somehow obtain the pot of gold from his slave and restore it to Euclio. He also advises him to release the slave from slavery under him to get back that pot of gold.

According to his advice, Lyconides acts and recovers that pot of gold from the slave and restores the same to Euclio. Euclio agrees to give the marriage and in this respect, Megadorus’s advice proves extremely useful. This is sound, positive and practical, and ushers happiness in life.

Indeed, Megadorus’s role in the play is almost of a teacher. His statements on different matters need be remembered for individual happiness and social good. His chief contribution to the plot of the play lies herein. As noted also, he does not demand any dowry in his proposal to marry Euclio’s young daughter. His words to him are all straight and clear:

“Euclio : I shan’t have a penny of dowry to give her. Megadorus: Don’t give her a half penny. Let her bring me her virtue and good name; that’s dowry enough.”

His soliloquy, rather loud enough to be heard by Euclio on dowry, is a valuable opinion for peace and happiness in life and society:

“Indeed I think it would be one excellent thing if more rich men married poor men’s daughters without dowries. It would make harmony in the community, and there would be much less friction in the home. The wives would learn obedience, and the husbands wouldn’t have to spend so much money……… I say let them marry as they please, but not with dowry for company.”

In course of his advice to his nephew Lyconides, Megadorus view on the use of money smacks a high ideal-“After all, what money, apart from what it can buy? And when was money more harm lessly employed than used to purchase the happiness and contentmen of at least three people at once? This money, wherever it came fron and we have no means of knowing whether or not it was honestl earned in the first place will now if you play your cards correctly, b.. the means of securing for you the bride of your choice, for your slave his freedom, and for Euclio the rest oration of his peace of mind and recovery of his beloved treasure”.

These are really fine words of wisdom for social good and indi vidual happiness.

Finally, his concluding observation is highly instructive for the world that fruitlessly runs after gold-“Contentment, peace of mina and sound sleep at night are worth more than a dozen pot of gold”.

The end of the play comes with the address of Megadorus to the audience which marks his sincere and noble greetings and good wishes-“So let us wish you good feasting at home, and ask, in return, your thanks.”.

This is a man highly adorable. No other character can but admit frankly “Here is a genial and good-natured man. Where is to be found another?”

Megadorus truly plays an excellent role in Plautus’s The Pot of Gold. He is a perfect advisor and mediator. He is rich in worldly wisdom, mingled with humanly feelings, that puts to social as well as individual advices. His chief contribution is his just advise in the just time to bring peace and happiness to as many people as possible. On the whole, he is the most amiable character in the play to bring lustre in the happy ending of the play and a void would have been created in the play without him.

III. Short Discussion : Analytical and Critical 1. The Women Characters

In Plautine plays, the significance of the female characters is little. Of course, the major reason for this is the non-availability of women actors then to play to female roles. The female roles were performed by men. Naturally, it was safer to give the women minor, non-speaking parts. The Greeks did not have also major roles for women in their plays. Plautus’s plays were actually fashioned after them.

He, too, chose to follow the same convention. Further, it can be argued that the bias Plautus shows against women is clearly a reflection of the society of the time. In Athenian and Roman society, women were not expected to be seen in public. Their work was to take care of their household and stay within the confines of their homes. Thus, the plays, as the replica of the then society, do not have many woman characters on the stage, and as such, their significance is hardly noteworthy.

Staphyla Plautus’s comic-satire The Pot of Gold has three important female characters, although one of them, Phaedria, has no appearance or action.

Despite Euclio’s ill-treatment with her, Staphyla remains a faithful servant to him and to his daughter Phaedria. She is a uni-dimensional character, whose only role is that of an elderly maid-servant, devoted to the core. She plays an important role in the story development of the plot of the play. She informs the audience of Phaedria’s pregnancy and her acute condition. Her exchange of words with Euclio provide enough fun and humour.

These also affirms Lar Familiaris’ description of Euclio’s nature. Her speeches throw light on Euclio’s nature as a miserly wretch. She is quite right when she says that her master’s house is so dirty that Dame Fortune would never set foot on it. She is an old woman and even though she has served as Euclio’s housekeeper for a long time, that miserly wretch never trusts her and always treats her unkindly.

Her presence in the play may not contribute to the action, yet her character serves to highlight the theme of the play-the futility of greed. She exposes much her master’s follies and vices. What is more, Staphyla is sympathetic to Phaedria’s condition and wants to protect her from social ostracism. Here, though nothing but a slave, she is many times more humane than her master, Euclio.

Eunomia: The next female figure is Eunomia, who is the sister of Megadorus, an important male figure. Eunomia’s conversation with Megadorus presents a very stereotypical picture of the women of the time. She has a habit to talk too much. She appears twice on the stage in the course of the play. As Megadorus’s sister, she shows her concern that her brother is not married yet, he must marry and suggests a middle-aged woman for him.

It is to Eunomia that Megadorus reveals that he wishes to marry Phaedria, Euclio’s young daughter. In her second appearance, Eunomia, however, tries to dissuade her brother from his decision, as she wants her son to marry Phaedria, Plautus makes Eunomia an unsympathetic figure. However, since her role as a mother and sister is the one highlighted in the play, she does nowhere appear shrewish and cunning, although somewhat tedious.

Phaedria: Phaedria, the daughter of Euclio, is the young hero, Lyconides’s beloved woman, and it is her marriage which signals the happy ending of the play. All the actors in Plautus’ time were men, and so, interestingly, Phaedria never makes an appearance on stage, even though her screams during her labour pain is heard. She is mentioned by the other characters. Lar Familiaris speaks of her devotion to him.

He also apprises the audience of her seduction by Lyconides. Phaedria’s future has been decided by her father in her absence. First, he agrees to get her married to Megadorus, and later, at Megadorus’s behest and at the return of his gold, to Lyconides. Since she cannot make any contribution to the action of the play, she doesn’t appear on the stage at all. She is completely under her father’s control. Her name only ap pears in the list of characters, and as such, it is possible that she may have appeared at the end of the play, without any dialogue or action

2. The Role of Lar Familiaris

Lar Familiaris is the household god of Euclio’s house. While the miserly Euclio does not worship Lar Familiaris, his daughter Phaedrial performs the necessary ceremonies to appease the resident spirit of the family. He is the first character to come on to the stage. Since he is a deity, he is not visible to the characters of the play. Lar Familiaris presents the prologue of the play which sets the stage for the action that follows.

It is through this Familiaris that the audience is informed that Euclio’s grandfather, being a great miser, had buried a pot of gold in the central hall of his house. This wealth had remained undiscovered until Lar Familiaris, in his pity for Euclio’s impoverished condition, and in his appreciation of Phaedria’s devotion, guided Euclio to the treasure. As the household deity, Lar Familiaris seems to influence the action. As he announces in his Prologue, he influences Megadorus to wish to marry Phaedria. Megadorus has not married earlier, so his sudden interest in marrying Phaedria has a simple explanation here.

Lar Familiaris also tells the audience in the Prologue that Phaedria has been seduced by Lyconides, Megadorus’ nephew, and she is now expecting their child. He is found all through the play, a good, compassionate deity, who well looks after the welfare of the family, despite Euclio’s despicable nature.

3. The End of the Play

After all hectic actions, followed by suspense, comes the end, somewhat strange, of Plautus’s play The Pot of Gold. The end is a happy one with the wedding bells for the young lovers, and peace and contentment for all others.

Despite all his desperate efforts and constant shifts of the hiding places, Euclio ultimately loses his pot of gold for his own excessive suspicion and anxiety. A slave of Lyconides watches his movement and removes the pot of gold in an opportune moment. That is a grave blow for Euclio. He rushes out here and there, frantically, to recover his hard preserved pot. He almost loses his normal sense and is in a state of utter desperation. His daughter Phaedria is crying in labour pain at that time, but he least bothers about her, and runs all over get back the stolen pot of gold.

Lyconides, the nephew of Megadorus responsible for the illicit pregnancy of Phaedria, is extremely sorry for his action and wants to marry her in place of her maternal uncle Megadorus, with the latter consent. He, however, knows his slave’s stealing of the pot of gold. He talks with Euclio indirectly about his desire to marry his daughter Euclio agrees to give him everything on getting back his pot of gold Advised by his maternal uncle, Lyconides approaches his slave to restore the pot of gold by releasing him from slavery. The slave is happy to get his release and readily hands over to him that pot of gold.

Now, Lyconides returns to Megadorus with the pot of gold. The latter returns the same to Euclio and suggests to him that his daughter should be married to his young nephew, Lyconides, who has restored his pot of gold. Euclio is too happy to get back his pot and readily agrees. So, the marriage is settled and both the lovers are happy.

The marriage is solemnized, but, thereafter, Euclio acts strangely. He announces his desire to bestow the pot of gold to someone who can make the proper use of the same. So, he gives his so dear pot of gold to the newly married couple, as his dowry gift.



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