1. Who is Lar Familiaris? 

Ans: Lar Familiaris is the name of the guardian spirit or the household god of Euclio’s house. Euclio worships him and looks after him regularly. It goes without saying that Lar Familiaris is not a human being, he is a god, who, though invisible but appears on the stage to deliver the prologue.

2. Why is Staphyla fed up with Euclio? 

Ans : At the very beginning of the play we see that Euclio bickers with Staphyla for no reason which, needless to say, makes Staphyla flabbergasted. He scolds her without any reason because actually he wants her to get out of the house for a little while so that he may be able to take a look at his pot of gold and make sure that it is safe. But Staphyla does not know about his mentality and that’s why she becomes fed up with him.

3 . Why does Megadorus want to marry at last? 

Ans : At the beginning of the play we see that Megadorus opposes the very idea of marriage, rather, he is opposed to the idea of an elderly man marrying an elderly woman. That’s why when his sister Eunomia comes up with a marriage proposal for him he becomes shocked. But finally he says that if at all he marries, he would marry the young daughter (i.e. Phaedria) of his neighbour, Euclio.

4. What does Euclio buy for his daughter’s wedding? 

Ans : Euclio went to the market in order to buy provisions for his daughter’s wedding feast but he comes back quite empty handed; because according to him everything in the market was too expensive. Then he informs us that he has bought only a packet of incense and a bunch of flowers which she would place around the altar of their household god in order to ask for his blessing.

5. “What do you know of my character?” What is Euclio’s idea regarding the character of Megadorus? 

Ans: Megadorus falls in love with Phaedria, daughter of Euclio, but he doesn’t know how to tell her father about his feelings for Phaedria. After a point of time he gets a chance to express his thoughts for Phaedria to Euclio. That’s why he utters the aforementioned speech. And after hearing everything from Megadorus, Euclio says that he thinks that Megadorus has a good family background and above all, he has a gentle heart and he knows nothing against him.

6. Why does Lyconides want to meet Euclio?

Ans : Lyconides is one of the major characters of Plautus’ magnum opus The Pot of Gold. He is painted with a tinge of sensibility and rationality by the playwright. When we read the play we come to know that he is having a secret relationship with Euclio’s daughter, Phaedria. We also come to know that Megadorus is intending to wed Phaedria.

But Lyconides’ mother dissuades Megadorus from marrying her so that her son could do so. Then, acting upon Megadorus’ guidance, Lyconides manages to obtain the pot of gold which his slave had stolen. Now he wants to return the pot of gold to Euclio and ask for his daughter’s hand in marriage. That’s why Lyconides wants to meet Euclio.

7. Describe Euclio’s efforts to keep his gold hidden from everybody? 

Ans: Plautus’ magnum opus Pot of Gold focuses on the way in which human beings become infatuated by the materialistic things like gold. This is manifested beautifully through the central character of the play, Euclio. The obsession that he forms concerning the pot of gold given to him by the household god Lar Familiaris, is very significant here. He forgets everything after getting the pot of gold even his humanly qualities like compassion, sympathy, empathy etc.

For example, when Megadorus, a wealthy gentleman offers to marry Euclio’s daughter, Phaedria without any dowry, Euclio suspects him of wanting to possess the pot of gold that the god had given him. Apart from this, at the beginning of the play we see that Euclio beats Staphyla, his old slave who is very loyal to him, because he thinks that Staphyla is going to take his pot of gold which he has hidden safely behind the idol of the household god.

Again, when he finds a number of cooks working in his house, he immediately jumps to the conclusion that they have already stolen his pot of gold, and that they had been sent to his house by Megadorus with a malicious purpose. Subsequently, Euclio decides to take out his pot of gold from its hiding place in his house and to take it to the shrine of Good Faith where he thinks it would be safer than it is in his house. Unanimously, all the frantic efforts of Euclio to hide his pot of gold and keep it safe bring out fun and laughter in the audience and the readers, and this is the untold magic of Plautus.

8. What role does Lar Familiaris play in Pot of Gold? 

Ans : Lar Familiaris is the name of the guardian spirit or the household god of Euclio’s house. Euclio worships him and looks after him regularly. It goes without saying that Lar Familiaris is not a human being, he is a god, who, though invisible but appears on the stage to deliver the prologue.

In the prologue of the play Lar Familiaris provides a number of information to the audience:

At first he says that Euclio’s grandfather had buried a pot full of gold coins beneath the fire-place in the central hall of his house without having told anybody. So, Euclio did not have any idea about the buried treasure in his own house.

Apart from this, Lar Familiaris says that he is greatly pleased by the admiration and gratitude of Phaedria, daughter of Euclio, who worships him daily by offering incense and flowers. Again, he further says that he would give Euclio those buried gold coins so that he would use them on his daughter’s wedding.

In conclusion we may say that Lar Familiaris plays a very crucial role in the action of the play The Pot of Gold. He unearths many untold facts and helps the audience to think about those facts or issues at the very beginning of the play.

9. What does Eunomia suggest to her brother? What was his reaction? 

Ans : Eunomia is one of the important characters of Plautus’ Pot of Gold. We met her first when she comes to her brother Megadorus with a matrimonial proposal. She makes him understand about the desirability of his getting married and fathering a family.

She says that men do not like their sister because they think that sisters talk too much. Anyway, she tells him that he should get married and should have a family. Again, she informs him that she has found a middle-aged woman whom he should marry and who would bring him a rich dowry

But Megadorus does not pay any heed to this proposal. This proposal appears to him like a great shock. When Eunomia asks what is the matter with him, he replies that any talk of marriage to him is like beating his brains out with a stone. But finally he tells Eunomia that, if he has to marry at all, then he would marry the younger daughter of Euclio even though he would not receive any dowry from him.

10. Discuss the nature of tragic action in Oedipus the King. 

Ans : Sophocles’ magnum opus Oedipus Rex is a typical example of tragedy because of the presence of the tragic setting, the tragic actions, mood, tragic character with tragic hamartia, tragic plot design moving to tragic disintegration and therefore the tragic realization by the character and audience.

Aristotle cites it as the most brilliant example of theatrical plot, the model for all to follow, and all the generations since who have seen it staged, no matter how inadequate the production or how poor the translation-have agreed with his assessment as they found themselves moved to pity and fear by the swift development of its ferociously logical plot. When Aristotle talks about tragedy in his magnum opus Poetics, he says:

“…a tragedy is an imitation of an action that is serious and also, having magnitude, complete in itself; in language with pleasurable accessories, each kind brought it separately in the parts of the work; in a dramatic, not in a narrative form; with incidents arousing pity and fear, wherewith to accomplish its catharsis of such emotions…every tragedy, therefore, must have six parts, which parts determine its quality — namely, plot, Characters, Diction, Thought, Spectacle, and Melody.”

Tragedy, then, is a process of imitating an action which has serious implications is complete, and possesses magnitude by means of language which has been made sensuously attractive, with each of its varieties and separately in the parts, enacted by the persons themselves and not presented through narrative; through a course of pity and fear completing the purification of tragic acts which have those emotional characteristics.

According to Aristotle, a tragedy should be serious; now, if we read the playOedipus the King diligently we will never overlook the “grave” and “serious” issue of plague which consumes the people of Thebes little by little. Apart from that, the ironic riddle of Delphi, (which Oedipus loves to solve), maintains the serious air of the play very well. Again, the play’s impact on the audience is very dark and grim indeed.

As the grim setting of the play evokes a sense of terror in the minds of the audience, on the other hand, the picture of the protagonist of the play is painted with the tinge of murky, nebulous air of uncertain mystery, which is, (needless to say), very gory for the tragic flow of the drama. It goes without saying that Sophocles’ Oedipus the King is a ‘complete tale’ of magnanimous titular tragic character, Oedipus. The play has a beginning, a middle and an end which are peculiar to tragedy.

According to Aristotle, a tragedy becomes successful only when it leaves an invisible excruciating, rather, titillating pain of “catharsis” in the minds of the readers or the audience. By reading the text we can assume easily the amount of pain that Oedipus has gone through, and we can connect ourselves with Oedipus as well, which, according to Aristotle, is the outstanding characteristic of a tragedy.

One of the renowned critics, Charles Segal opines that, “the tragic effect of the play lies in its dramatic irony, long ago observed by Aristotle: what seems to be bringing salvation in fact brings destruction. In the very first scene the Theban priest invokes Oedipus as the “savior” from the plague, when in fact he is its cause. Later, Oedipus will curse his savior, the man who saved him from death when he was exposed on the mountain in infancy.

Despite all the attempts to avoid the three oracles- the oracles given to Laius in the remote past, to Oedipus some twenty years ago at Delphi, and to Thebes in the present- they all come true.” It is ironical to see Oedipus blind at the end of the play while at the very beginning of the play he castigates Tiresias for his blindness as conspicuous from his speech:

“You (Tiresias) have lost your power, Stone-blind, stone-deaf-senses, eyes blind as stone!”

One can also say that Oedipus’ downfall is camouflaged in the action of his quest motif’, as he demands to ‘know himself’ from the beginning of the play. There is no shadow of doubt that Oedipus suffers from ‘hubris’ or of ‘excessive pride’. But this ‘hubris’ in him (as observed by Thomas Gould) does not enable him to be “a universal fatalist. Nor would it make Oedipus a puppet without character or excellence.”

Unanimously, the tragic fate of Oedipus echoes the devastated and deluded image of Shakespeare’s King Lear. We are obviously reminded of the famous dictum from King Lear by seeing the tragic doom of Oedipus :

“As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods. They kill us for their sport.” (- King Lear, Act – 4, scene – 1) It is interesting to note that Oedipus’ sense of ‘amor fati’ turns out to be the cause behind his existential crisis. If truth is beautiful then Oedipus’ beautiful truth is the unattainable one. Precisely, it is the sense of guilt in Oedipus that impels him to search for the ultimate truth but when he gets to know about it he is left with nothing but shedding tears by pointing his finger at himself:

” The blackest things a man can do, I have done them all!”

Sheppard interprets the philosophical theme of Sophocles’ play as a mild agnosticism or neutral fatalism. Oedipus, he declares, behaves normally, commits an error in ignorance, and brings suffering upon himself. “Sophocles justifies nothing. His Oedipus stands for human suffering… Oedipus suffers not because of his guilt, but in spite of his goodness.”

Last but not least, Sophocles’ Oedipus the King majestically portrays the quest for identity. It also shows how ‘life’s little ironies’ prevent one to gain that eternal knowledge. Ironically chance makes him the king of Thebes and chance snatches his crown away as well. Chance saves him from the grasp of the ‘icy fingers’ of death and again, chance instigates him to blind himself. Certainly, chance works in a mysterious way.

On this note, we can say that Oedipus stands out as a perfect example of the combination of human suffering and human happiness. The more he suffers the more he acquires knowledge, the more he acquires knowledge the more he becomes aware of his identity, and the more he becomes aware of his identity the more he goes to the precipice of his doom.

It is certain that nobody is (completely) happy in this world, for, as Hardy said, “happiness is but an occasional episode in the general drama of pain.” The drama ends by throwing lights on the complicated catastrophic paths of life leading undoubtedly to grave, where all human agonies end. At the very end of the play Sophocles uses his chorus as the representative of the humanity in general as they philosophize:

“count no man happy until he dies, free of all pain.”

11. Discuss the role chorus in Oedipus the King.

Ans : According to M. H. Abrams, “among the ancient Greeks the chorus was a group of people, wearing masks, who sang or chanted verses while performing dancelike movements at religious festivals.” Apart from this, chorus also served mainly as commentators on the dramatic actions. Like in Oedipus Rex, the chorus of the classical Greek theatre would consist of representative citizens of society which the drama was supposed to represent.

Friedrich Nietzsche in his magnum opus The Birth of Tragedy (1872) says that at the origin of Greek tragedy, the chorus- consisting of goat-like satyrs-were the only figures on the stage. Chorus played a major role in many plays like Milton’s closet drama Samson Agonisted (1671), T. S. Eliot’s poetic play Murder in the Cathedral (1935), Bertolt Brecht’s The Caucasian Chalk Circle (1943-45), Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie (1945) etc. In Oedipus the King the elders of the chorus represent men of Thebes who respect their gods and king.

The fundamental roles of the chorus is to provide actual context and previous events to the audience and Sophoclean chorus do not fail to do that. In the play Sophocles uses his chorus as a tool to provide information and a means of invoking gods as well. Sophocles does not merely choose dialogues for them, rather he chooses some ‘choral odes’ for them. The Choral odes are in the form of lyrics, they have a beginning, a middle and an end.

The basic role of the chorus in Oedipus the King is to sing comments about the ongoing situations in the drama. The functions of the chorus in the play can be categorized into five points : 1) mediating, 2) evaluating, 3) foreboding, 4) guiding, and 5) dramatizing. When the chorus appear on the stage, they inform us about the terrible situation of Thebes and they plead to gods for saving them from the gory and devastating condition as conspicuous from the first choral ode:

“Thebes like a great army dying and there is no sword of thought to save us, no and the fruits of our famous earth, they will not ripen no and the women cannot scream their pangs to birthscreams of Healer, children dead in the womb and life on life goes down…”

Frederick Ahl in his essay Oedipus and Teiresias says that “Oedipus adopts an authoritative, oracular tone” in order to answer the questions posed by the chorus. He threats them for not telling the truth regarding the murderer of Laius to him. He says:

“if anyone of you knows who murdered Laius, the son of Labdacus, I order him to reveal the whole truth to me.”

Sophoclean chorus makes us think of the events of the play very intensely. The Chorus is very concerned about the fate of Oedipus and the fate of the people of Thebes in general. When the Chorus hears that Tiresias has accused Oedipus of murdering Laius he does not judge his king on the basis of Tiresias’ speculations, rather, the Chorus shows his respect and his gratitude towards him, which is very remarkable indeed. The Chorus sings:

“I know nothing, not in the past and not now, no charge to bring our king, no cause to attack his fame that rings throughout Thebes-not without proof-not for the ghost of Laius not to avenge a murder gone without a trace.”

In their third choral ode, the Chorus sings of ‘hubris’, the pride, overconfidence and vainglorious magnanimity of Oedipus. There is a short conversation between the Chorus and Oedipus which is very crucial in the development of the plot.

Chorus humbly requests Oedipus for considering the whole matter (regarding the murder of Laius) in a sensible way as the latter deliberately (out of excessive stubbornness) blames Creon as the culprit of the whole thing. We cannot simply deny the fact that the Chorus is shown more sensible than the protagonist, Oedipus, in the play.

Another important role of the chorus is to comment and evaluate the incidents and developments, characters, and themes of the drama. In this drama we see the same thing. Here the Chorus philosophizes on the fall of Oedipus:

“O the generations of men the dying generations-adding the total of all your lives I find they come to nothing…”

When we hear the vivid voice of the Chorus speaking to the entire nihilistic nebulous faces, addressing them as the timid trivial people of nothingness, we become totally electrified and as if our tears roll down our cheeks. The Chorus says:

…Is there a man more agonized? More wed to pain and frenzy? Not a man on earth, The joy of your life ground down to nothing o Oedipus…”

The Chorus plays an outstanding role in the play Oedipus the King, the Chorus upholds the murky reality of Oedipus’ life and his fate very well in the play. We get to know about the plot of the play and we envisage much about the fate of Oedipus from the choral odes. The final choric song is an interpretation of Oedipus’ fall and the death-in-life condition of human beings.

The last speech of the Chorus can be interpreted as the true philosophy of humanity. It is truly observed by the Chorus that the human beings wait for their death throughout the whole life (which is quite absurd) and ultimately they die (which cannot be evaded); and it’s a never-ending process. The Chorus puts this philosophy in a very poetic way, as they say:

“Now as we keep our watch and wait the final day, count no man happy till he dies, free of all pain at last.”




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