Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)


Chremylus (KREH-mih-luhs), an old Athenian husbandman. Poor but honest, he has consulted the Delphic Oracle to determine whether his only son should be taught virtuous ways or the knavery and double-dealing by which successful men acquire their wealth. The god tells him to follow the first person he meets after leaving the temple. He does so, even though that person is a blind and wretched beggar. When this unfortunate reveals himself as Plutus, Chremylus conceives the idea of restoring his sight so that the God of Wealth can distinguish between the just and the unjust. Chremylus is a simple, friendly fellow, unselfish enough to invite his neighbors to share his good fortune, but he also admits that he loves money, and he loses no time in converting the divine favor he has won into hard cash and luxuries. Like all the playwright’s comic protagonists, he roundly condemns the evils of Athenian society and lashes out particularly against informers, grafters, and voluptuaries.


Cario (KAR-ee-oh), Chremylus’ slave. He is a broadly comic figure, well aware of his master’s shortcomings, wryly stoical about his own lot in life, and sometimes impertinent. He is perhaps at his best in describing a night in the Temple of Aesculapius, when he had pretended to be one of the holy serpents so that he could filch some pap from an old woman.


(The entire section is 591 words.)

Plutus Bibliography

(Great Characters in Literature)

Dover, K. J. Aristophanic Comedy. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1972. Useful and authoritative study of the plays of Aristophanes. Chapter 16 gives a synopsis of the play, discusses the role of slaves in this new genre of comedy, and comments on the connection between wealth and morality that is made in the play. An essential starting point for study of the plays.

Harriott, Rosemary M. Aristophanes: Poet and Dramatist. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986. A study of Aristophanes. The plays are discussed not in individual chapters but as each illustrates the central themes and techniques of Aristophanes’ work.

McLeish, Kenneth. The Theatre of Aristophanes. New York: Taplinger, 1980. An overview of the dramatic technique of Aristophanes. Useful for understanding the magnitude of the changes from Old to Middle Comedy.

Murray, Gilbert. Aristophanes: A Study. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 1933. Contains valuable insights into all the plays of Aristophanes. Chapter 10 offers an excellent discussion of Plutus.

Spatz, Lois. Aristophanes. Boston: Twayne, 1978. A reliable introduction to the comedy of Aristophanes for the general reader. Chapter 9 discusses the themes of the play and emphasizes its differences from earlier Aristophanic comedy.