(Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

Chremylus, a Greek farmer, goes to the temple of Apollo in Athens and asks the oracle there how his son might attain affluence without having to resort to knavery. The oracle directs Chremylus to follow the first man he encounters as he emerges from the temple and to take the stranger home with him. The first man Chremylus sees is a blind beggar, whom he follows impatiently. At first the beggar refuses to reveal his identity to Chremylus, but when Cario, Chremylus’s servant, threatens to push the blind man over a cliff, he fearfully reveals that he is Plutus, the god of riches, blinded by Zeus for telling the god that he will favor only good men. Zeus does not want Plutus to discriminate among men. The unhappy Plutus declares to Chremylus that if he had his sight back again he would favor only the good and shun the wicked.

When Chremylus offers to restore his sight to him, Plutus expresses fear of the wrath of Zeus. Chremylus declares that if Plutus were to get his sight back, even for a moment, Zeus would be superseded, because the dispensation of all wealth, upon which Zeus is dependent for his authority, would be in the power of Plutus; money, after all, pays even for sacrifices offered up to Zeus. It would then be Plutus, according to Chremylus, not Zeus, who would be all things to all men. Plutus is delighted to hear these words.

Chremylus, after sending Cario to summon the neighboring farmers, ushers Plutus into his house. When Cario tells the farmers that Plutus is at Chremylus’s house and that he will lift them out of their poverty, they are delirious with joy. Chremylus, welcoming them, notices that his friend Blepsidemus is skeptical of Cario’s report; Blepsidemus suspects that Chremylus has stolen a treasure. Chremylus declares that Plutus is truly in his house and that all good and deserving people will soon be rich. Even Blepsidemus becomes convinced, and he agrees that it is essential to restore Plutus’s eyesight.

As Chremylus prepares to take Plutus to the temple of Asclepius to have his sight restored, the goddess of poverty, a hideous old woman, appears and objects to the prospect of being cast out of Chremylus’s house after having lived with him for many years. Blepsidemus and Chremylus are terrified at the sight of the goddess, but Chremylus quickly regains his composure and engages her in a debate over which deity, the god...

(The entire section is 975 words.)