Plutus

Summary

Plutus
God of Wealth
Eirene Ploutos Glyptothek Munich 219 n4.jpg
Eirene with the infant Ploutos: Roman copy after Kephisodotos' votive statue, c. 370 BC, in the Agora, Athens.
Personal information
ParentsDemeter and Iasion
SiblingsPersephone, Despoina, Arion, Philomelus

Plutus (/ˈpltəs/; Greek: Πλοῦτος, translit. Ploûtos, lit. "wealth") is the Greek god of wealth. He is either the son of Demeter[1] and Iasion,[2][3][4] with whom she lay in a thrice-ploughed field; or the child of Hades and Persephone,[5] or the son of the fortune goddess Tyche.[6]

In the arts

Polychrome marble statue depicting the goddess Tyche holding the infant Plutus in her arms, 2nd century AD, Istanbul Archaeological Museum.
Sencathea [?] [Female figure] feeding infant Plutus from horn of plenty, relief, Rome. Brooklyn Museum Archives, Goodyear Archival Collection.

In the philosophized mythology of the later Classical period, Plutus is envisaged by Aristophanes as blinded by Zeus, so that he would be able to dispense his gifts without prejudice; he is also lame, as he takes his time arriving, and winged, so he leaves faster than he came.[7] When the god's sight is restored, in Aristophanes' comedy, he is then able to determine who is deserving of wealth, creating havoc.

Among the Eleusinian figures painted on Greek ceramics, regardless of whether he is depicted as child or youthful ephebe, Plutus can be identified as the one bearing the cornucopia—horn of plenty. In later allegorical bas-reliefs, Plutus is depicted as a boy in the arms of Eirene, as Prosperity is the gift of "Peace", or in the arms of Tyche, the Fortune of Cities.

In Lucian of Samosata's satirical dialogue Timon, Ploutus, the very embodiment of worldly goods written up in a parchment will, says to Hermes:

it is not Zeus who sends me, but Hades, who has his own ways of conferring wealth and making presents; Hades and Plutus are not unconnected, you see. When I am to flit from one house to another, they lay me on parchment, seal me up carefully, make a parcel of me and take me round. The dead man lies in some dark corner, shrouded from the knees upward in an old sheet, with the cats fighting for possession of him, while those who have expectations wait for me in the public place, gaping as wide as young swallows that scream for their mother's return.

In Canto VII of Dante's Inferno, Plutus is a demon of wealth who guards the fourth circle of Hell, "The Hoarders and the Wasters". Dante likely included Plutus to symbolize the evil of hoarding wealth. He is known for saying the famous phrase, "Pape Satàn, pape Satàn aleppe."

Etymology

Like many other figures in Greek mythology, Plutus' name is related to several English words. These include:

  • Plutocracy, rule by the wealthy, and plutocrat, one who rules by virtue of wealth
  • Plutonomics, the study of wealth management
  • Plutolatry, the "worship" of money
  • Plutomania, an excessive desire for wealth

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Karl Kerenyi, "We are not surprised to learn that the fruit of her love was Ploutos, 'riches'. What else could have sprung from the willingness of the grain goddess?" (Eleusis: Archetypal Image of Mother and Daughter (Bollingen) 1967, p 30).
  2. ^ Hesiod, Theogony 969
  3. ^ Diodorus Siculus, Historic Library 5.77.1
  4. ^ Hyginus, De Astronomica 2.4.7
  5. ^ Karl Kerenyi, "After the rape of Persephone a child was born, the little Ploutos, who resembled the ravisher, Plouton- Latinized as Pluto. ... In two representations of the Eleusinian goddesses intended for the general public, two magnificent vase paintings in late Attic style, we see the child; once as a little boy standing with a cornucopia before the enthroned Demeter, and once in the cornucopia being handed to Demeter by a goddess rising out of the earth- as though he had been born down there in the realm to which Kore had been carried away." (Eleusis: Archetypal Image of Mother and Daughter (Bollingen) 1967, p 31).
  6. ^ Aesop, Fables 413
  7. ^ Plutus (Wealth, second version, 388 BC)

References

  • Aristophanes, Plutus (Wealth), in Aristophanes, Frogs, Assemblywomen, Wealth, edited and translated by Jeffrey Henderson, Loeb Classical Library No. 180, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard University Press, 2002. Online version at Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0-674-99596-3.
  • Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Plutus" . Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  • Diodorus Siculus, Library of History, Volume III: Books 4.59-8, translated by C. H. Oldfather, Loeb Classical Library No. 340. Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard University Press, 1939. ISBN 978-0-674-99375-4. Online version at Harvard University Press. Online version by Bill Thayer.
  • Hesiod, Theogony, in The Homeric Hymns and Homerica with an English Translation by Hugh G. Evelyn-White, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1914. Online version at the Perseus Digital Library.
  • Hyginus, Gaius Julius, De Astronomica, in The Myths of Hyginus, edited and translated by Mary A. Grant, Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 1960. Online version at ToposText.
  • Kerényi, Karl (1967), Eleusis: Archetypal Image of Mother and Daughter, Princeton University Press, 1991. ISBN 9780691019154.