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Eirene 1 (Peace) holding the child Plutus (Wealth). 0223: Eirene mit dem kleinen Plutus. Kopie nach einer Kultstatue des Kephisodot auf dem Markplatz von Athen (um 370 v. Chr.). Glyptothek, München.

"The prosperous should live ostentatiously, and so make plain the god's bounty. For the god who has bestowed these blessings thinks that a man should feel grateful to him for what he has done. But when men try to hide their fortune, alleging that they are but indifferently well off, the god sees that they are ungrateful and are living meanly, and at the first opportunity he seizes and wrests from them all that he has given before." (Athenaeus, Deipnosophistae 2.40e).

"Wealth should not be seized: god-given wealth is much better; for if a man takes great wealth violently and perforce, or if he steals it through his tongue, as often happens when gain deceives men's sense and dishonor tramples down honor, the gods soon blot him out and make that man's house low, and wealth attends him only for a little time." (Hesiod, Works and Days 320).

«'Thus! do you think a potter who grew rich would any longer be willing to give his mind to his craft?' 'By no means,' said he. 'But will he become more idle and negligent than he was?' 'Far more.' 'Then he becomes a worse potter?' 'Far worse too.' 'And yet again, if from poverty he is unable to provide himself with tools and other requirements of his art, the work that he turns out will be worse, and he will also make inferior workmen of his sons or any others whom he teaches.' 'Of course.' 'From both causes, then, poverty and wealth, the products of the arts deteriorate, and so do the artisans?' 'So it appears.'» (Plato, Republic 421d et seq.).

"... the inheritance which the Spartans receive from their fathers is not wealth, as is the case with all other men, but an eagerness to die for the sake of liberty, so that they set all the good things which life can offer second to glory." (Diodorus Siculus, The Library of History 10.34.8.).

Plutus—a blind god—is Wealth, shown by artists as nursed by Peace. He was born in Crete, and is said to have been the first to introduce diligence, as well as the acquisition and safeguarding of property, into the life of men. For before his arrival, humans had been neglectful of storing property. But through him they learned to acquire more than they actually need, being said to possess Plutus when they succeeded in doing so.


Although Wealth is allotted by Fate, Plutus is usually regarded as a very nice god:

"Plutus is a kindly god who goes everywhere over land and the sea's wide back, and he makes rich the man who finds him and into whose hands he comes, bestowing great wealth upon him." (Hesiod, Theogony 970).

Naturally, many wish to receive this god as guest in their houses, since all followers in his retinue bear wonderful names such as profusion, abundance, affluence, prosperity, opulence, holdings, capital, assets, bonds, or even "shares" (although Plutus is not given to sharing). These great things usually invite the wealthy to become wealthier, and the wealthier wealthiest. For even if it is regarded as particularly lovely to be well-off or well-to-do, and accordingly lead a comfortable and high moneyed life at one's residence on Easy Street, still, moving to Easier Street must be aimed at. For them, most other things have little or no value at all, and they could say with Polyphemus 2:

"Little man, the wise regard wealth as the god to worship; all else is just prating and fine-sounding sentiments." (The Cyclops to Odysseus. Euripides, Cyclops 316).

Gods and Goods

The fullness of that existence is such, that some talk about the wealthy as being "loaded," as if they were crawling with indigestion under some weight, thus getting "filthy rich" and even "stinking." Therefore, some do not call things like Wealth "gods," but instead they say "goods." And regarding these goods as more human than divine, they rank Wealth in the fourth place, after Health, Beauty, and Strength. And others place Wealth far below excellence or virtue

"I say it now and I always will: excellence has the greatest glory. Wealth keeps company with worthless men as well, and it tends to swell a man's thoughts ..." (Bacchylides, Odes 1.160).

For Wealth is not so much concerned with qualities as he is with quantities; and because man does not possess riches as much as he is possessed by them.

W. F. & P.

Wealth walks along with Fame and Power, exchanging services, as it were; and humans who are the slaves of any of these three, may commit whatever deed in order to attain them or increase their share in them. But

"... the god hates violence, and commands everyone to have their possessions without robbery. Wealth that is unjust, though it may bring some power, ought to be avoided." (Helen to Menelaus. Euripides, Helen 905).

But riches are appreciated for their own sake, and because they alone can make things and people appear in another, more favorable light:

"I know also the great power of wealth, which makes even a useless man valuable." (Bacchylides, Odes 10.50).

And although the worth of a man and his happiness are difficult to establish, they can, least of all, be tested by wealth:

"There is no exact way to test a man's worth; for human nature has confusion in it. I have seen before now the son of a noble father worth nothing, and good children from evil parents; famine in a rich man's spirit, and a mighty soul in a poor man's body. How then does one rightly distinguish and judge these things? By wealth? A sorry test to use." (Orestes 2 to Electra 2. Euripides, Electra 370).

Wealth and Justice

It is told that Plutus never shared his riches with his brother Philomelus, and that the latter, compelled by Necessity, bought two oxen with the little he had and, having invented the wagon, cultivated the fields and supported himself. This is so because Plutus is Wealth, not Brotherhood, and no one should reproach this god for his nature. For Wealth is a wonderful gift, and it is not the god, but the greed of men that oppose Justice:

"Wealth I desire to have; but wrongfully to get it, I do not wish. Justice, even if slow, is sure." (Solon. Plutarch, Parallel Lives Solon 2.3).

Cause of good and evil

Yet humans consider Plutus the sole cause of both good and evil, saying, on one hand, that it is because of him that men sacrifice to Zeus, and that it is for his sake that all human inventions and arts have come about. On the other hand, they—loving to absolve themselves—complain that whores, either male or female, do not care for love but for money, adding that so does the thief and the burglar, and the same is for all other businesses with the help of which things are fashioned and sold. Likewise, they lament that also friendship suffers, affirming that friends vanish when the coffers are empty. This is how they blame Plutus.

Politics and War

Similarly, they reason, the pride of great rulers derives from Plutus, given that Insolence dwells with this god; and they assert that it is because of him that citizens get involved in politics, and fleets and armies are equipped. And they complain about politicians and other leaders, saying that for as long as they are poor, they are also honest, but once they reach the public funds, they start to hate Justice and plot against democracy. Some among these public servants do not even do anything of their own, but instead superintend both public and private businesses, sneaking themselves in the affairs of others, and making a living out of what they call country's service, which is—as they themselves define it—to watch the observation of the established law and to prevent its violation. In this complaint, they are in agreement with the god, who himself says:

"... as soon as they secure my favors and grow rich, their wickedness knows no bounds." (Plutus. Aristophanes, Plutus 109).

Of Plutus no one tires

Finally they state that mortals might get tired of Love, bread, music, honours, cakes, battles, ambition, military advancement, or lentil soup, but of Plutus they never tire.




Iasion & Demeter

Iasion, regarded as one of the most handsome, was son of Zeus and Electra 3 (see also Demeter).

Related sections

Aes.Eum.996; Cic.ND.2.61; Dio.5.77.1; Hes.The.969; Hyg.Ast.2.4; Pau.1.8.2.