How does Plautus's play, The Pot of Gold, reflect the role of women in Greek society?

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playsthething | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Assistant Educator

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The female characters and the way that women are discussed in Plautus' play, The Pot of Gold, clearly reflect the time of the play's writing.  In this time, women had very little standing.  They were basically considered property of their fathers or husbands, or they were servants.  In the play, Phaedria is a female character who much of the plot revolves around, but she never appears on stage.  She is subject to her father's whims when it comes to her marriage, and when Euclio finds out that she is not a virgin, and is indeed with child, blatantly states that he can dispose of her and her child as he wishes.  The reader also is able to see how women are viewed through Megadorus' descriptions of women as he tries to justify to his sister his desire to marry Phaedria, a poor girl without dowry.  He describes them as expensive and difficult.  Indeed, his best vision of marriage is that he marries one day and the next day, his wife is dead.  Eunomia, Megadorus' sister, does seem to possess a little power, in her ability to sway her brother and her son. The other female characters in the play are servants and they have no power.  Staphyla is verbally and physically (in a comic way one assumes) abused by Euclio, although Plautus lets the audience see that she is an example of a wily servant (a servant that is smarter than his/her master) and she is seen as a survivor.