The Pot of Gold Characters

Characters Discussed (Great Characters in Literature)


Euclio (EW-klee-oh), an old miser intent on hiding from others his possession of a pot of gold hidden by his miserly grandfather but revealed to him in its hiding place by his household god. Wishing to use the gold as a dowry to help his daughter Phaedria get a husband, Euclio hides it again, pretends poverty, and suspects everyone of trying to rob him or trick him out of his treasure. Unsure of Megadorus’ sincerity, he nevertheless agrees to let him marry Phaedria because of his willingness to take her without a dowry and to pay the wedding expenses. After the withdrawal of Megadorus as a suitor and the return of the stolen gold by Lyconides, Euclio accepts the young man as a son-in-law and even gives the gold to the newly wedded couple. The story of Euclio is probably based on one of Menander’s lost comedies.


Megadorus (meh-guh-DOH-ruhs), 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.


Eunomia (ew-

(The entire section is 531 words.)

The Pot of Gold Bibliography (Great Characters in Literature)

Anderson, William S. Barbarian Play: Plautus’ Roman Comedy. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1993. An important critical study. In a section entitled “The Pregnant Virgin: Aulularia,” Anderson focuses on plotting techniques, and the chapter “Comic Language, Metre, and Staging” explains why Euclio, who is often called Plautus’ best comic villain, dominates the stage. Useful checklist of criticism.

Arnott, W. Geoffrey. Menander, Plautus, Terence. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press, 1975. Disagrees with the prevailing interpretations of the character of Euclio, which according to Arnott ignore the climate of the age in which the play was written. Plautus’ genius is evident in the subtle techniques he uses to bring Euclio to life.

Duckworth, George E., ed. The Complete Roman Drama. New York: Random House, 1942. 2 vols. The general introduction to this standard work is a good starting point for the study of Roman comedy. The essay prefacing The Pot of Gold includes a concise plot summary and analysis, historical information, and an indication of the play’s later influence.

Hunter, R. L. The New Comedy of Greece and Rome. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1985. A well-organized work that ranges from matters of form to thematic and didactic considerations. In the final chapter, Hunter shows how Plautus alters his sources to make Euclio a more complex character.

Segal, Erich. Roman Laughter: The Comedy of Plautus. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1968. Euclio is discussed at length in the chapter “Puritans, Principles, Pleasures” and more briefly elsewhere. An index of passages is a useful guide to specific comments on the play. Extensive notes.