The Pot of Gold

by Plautus

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Last Updated on August 31, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 464

The Pot of Gold begins as Euclio's household deity makes himself known, speaking to the audience as an omniscient narrator. He explains the backdrop the play's events occur within and indicates his reasoning for becoming involved with the mundane goings on in Euclio and Phaedria's lives. After Euclio's grandfather requested his deity hide a pot of gold from his descendants, the spirit acquiesced, for the descendants of the gold's owner neglected to worship him. Indeed, Euclio was neither pious nor devout and often failed to perform his duties. However, the deity notes that his daughter, Phaedria, is unlike her father and prays to their household spirit regularly and fervently. He reveals the gold to aid her, as he explains:

Out of regard for her I caused Euclio to discover the treasure here in order that he might the more easily find her a husband, if he wished. For she has been ravished by a young gentleman of very high rank.

The deity tells readers his intentions, aiming to manipulate events to ensure Phaedria is treated with the honor and dignity he feels she deserves. He deftly orchestrates events, planning to 

...make the old gentleman who lives next door here (pointing) ask for her hand to-day. My reason for so doing is that the man who wronged her may marry her the more easily.

While the deity arranges events to benefit Phaedria, Euclio is consumed by passionate paranoia, fearful that some malevolent enemy will steal his fortune. At this point, Phaedria is well into her pregnancy, yet her father fails to notice his struggles; instead, he spends his days obsessing over the safety of his gold.

Now I'll just go see if the gold is where I hid it. Dear, dear, it worries the life out of me!

After several acts worth of confusion, misunderstandings, and all-around chaos, the characters finally begin to communicate and sort out the lingering questions that were responsible for the plot-driving misconceptions. Just as the household deity intended, Lyconides confesses to his misdoings and asks that Euclio allows him to right his wrongs. Circumstances aligned just as planned, and the virtuous Phaedria is vindicated by her father's agreement and Lyconides's acceptance of responsibility.

I implore you to forgive me and let me marry her as I'm legally bound to. (nervously) It was the night of Ceres' festival... and what with wine and... a young fellow's natural impulses together... I wronged her, I confess it.

Though the play's conclusion has since been lost, the ending is recorded in fragments, surviving reviews, and other references that paint the events of the conclusion in broad strokes. Lyconides and Phaedria are happily married, and Euclio, either of his own volition or motivated by his household deity, gifts the newlyweds with the pot of gold. 

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