The Pot of Gold Questions and Answers
by Plautus

Start Your Free Trial

Study The Pot of Gold in its context.

Expert Answers info

accessteacher eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2009

write13,728 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and History

It is important to recognise the way in which Plautus, in this comedy, is using stock characters from ancient Greek comedy in his presentation of this immensely funny play. This is evidenced in the rather stereotypical stock character of the miser, Euclio, who the audience laughs at because of the extent of his avarice. Megadorus is likewise another stock character, a much older bachelor who hopes to marry a much younger, beautiful girl. Also, a common theme of such comedies at the time was the role of servants showing themselves to be more intelligent than the people they serve, and this is certainly something that this play demonstrates. 

However, at the same time, as much as Plautus was a playwright writing this play in his historical context and reflecting the main themes and ideas of literature at the time, it is also possible to see that he did choose to differ in his plot and character in some important ways. In this play, for example, Euclio, although he is so obsessed with his gold that when Lyconides confesses to him that he has already slept with his daughter, only chooses to hear about his gold, showing a lack of sensitivity towards his daughter that is chilling:

Oh, my life is wrecked, wrecked! The way calamities swarm down and settle on me one after another! Go in I will, and have the truth of it!

However, in spite of this, Plautus does allow him to experience a change of heart, and in the fragment of this play that has been lost, we know that Euclio gives his money to Lyconides and his daughter and learns the error of his ways, seeing that he is better off without the pot of gold that distorted his vision so greatly in the play. The context of this play is therefore the tropes and themes of literature that Plautus both followed but also altered in certain ways. 

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial