THE POT OF GOLD Questions and Answers Pdf Download
THE POT OF GOLD
Q.1. Elaborate on the significance of the title of Plautus’ The Pot of Gold??
Ans. The Pot of Gold is the story of an old man who is extremely avaricious and also close-fisted and stingy. Plautus here upholds the hollowness of the society through the image of Euclio, one of ine main (stock) characters in the play. The plot of the play The Pot of Gold revolves a round Euclio and his magnanimous pot of gold which he gets from his household god (i.e. Lar Familiaris). It is because of the pot of gold we get to know more about human nature. Again, it is because of this pot of gold we come to know about the societal norms and traditional ethics of that time as Plautus has beautifully described in this play Pot of Gold.
The play begins with the prologue told by the guardian spirit of Euclio’s house, where he lays bare the fact that he is guarding a pot of gold which Euclio’s grandfather buried beneath the fireplace in the house without telling anybody. So, the household god Lar Familiaris gives the pot of gold to Euclio so that he can spend the money on his daughter’s wedding.
But, after getting the pot of gold from the god Euclio becomes completely obsessed with it and becomes over-possessive. He suspects everybody by taking it for granted that the person has come to grab his gold. Needless to say, his over-suspicious nature brings out mirth and fun in the audience.
The title of the play is very significant in the sense that it brings out the hypocrisy of the then society through the portrayal of Euclio. The pot of gold is not just a receptacle; it is the main concern of the play. It is because of this pot of gold we come to know about the vanity and hypocrisy of the Roman society. This is because of this pot of gold we get to hear the following words from Euclio’s lips:
“When a rich man addresses thus the poor,
He knows I’ve gold: and hence his kindly words.” (Act-II, Scene-II)
Needless to say, the whole plot of the play focuses on the pot of gold; the way it is bestowed by Lar Familiaris to Euclio and the way it is lost by him are important. Again, it is not just a pot of gold; it is an insignia of one’s capability of controlling his avarice. This ‘petty’ pot of gold makes the readers realize that avarice is an extremely obnoxious vice in a person which makes the person ridiculous and contemptible. At the same time, this pot of gold is the source of sleeplessness and uneasiness as conspicuous from the speech of Euclio:
“Now I will go and see if the gold is there
. Just as I hid it, gold which has become A constant source of trouble to myself.”. (Act-I, scene-I) The play critiques on the value of oney; it says money has value only when it adds to a man’s happiness and increases his contentment. Plautus here wants to uphold the vivid picture of avarice, lust and hypocrisy through the ‘pot of gold. It is a satire on the contemporary Roman society where the sacred institution of marriage is nothing but a mere plaything; where women do not share their views or they do not have any social stand;and where predominant moral values uphold the hollowness of male-chauvinism; where malice and rancor are prevalent everywhere.
Now, if we observe clearly we would not fail to jee Megadorus’ view on the ethics and morality, which beautifully brings out the fundamental theme of the play:
“Contentment, peace of mind, and sound sleep at night, Are worth than a dozen pots of gold.”
Unanimously, the title of the play magnificently sums up the entire plot of the play in a nutshell. It describes how a helpless father wants to marry off his daughter pompously, at the same time it shows the utter hypocrisy of the same father and his over-suspicious nature. And It demonstrates how a pot of gold becomes the source of both pleasure and pain at the same time. It depicts the opaque light of faith and the fluctuating filthy flame of evil which lurks under the apparent garb of goodness. So, by seeing all these issues we can draw a conclusion here, that is, we can now safely say that the title of the play “The Pot of Gold” is very apt and unique.
Ans. The plot of the play The Pot of Gold, revolves round Eu the central figure of the play. Euclio is above all a character who is defined by his greed and avaricious nature. The play starts with his reproach to Staphyla as he says:
“Go out: go out: I say, and get you gone,
You that are looking round with prying eyes!” (Act-I, Scene-I)
From this speech we can decipher how greedy and how insolent he is. At the same time he is possessive regarding the ‘pot of gold’ which he had received from his household god. To speak the truth, the theme of the play is redressed at the very beginning of the play, as Euclio muses:
“Now I (Euclio) will go and see if the gold is there. Just as I hid it, gold which has become A constant source of trouble to myself.” (Act-I, Scene-I)
In particular, the last phrase, (“gold which has become a constant source of trouble to myself”), can be used to show the major theme of the play: i.e., the dangers of greed and the way that possession of wealth does not necessarily come as a blessing to its recipients. One of the fundamental flaws in Euclio’s character is his over-suspicious nature. He rebukes Staphyla of being over-inquisitive, he suspects Megadorus of having secret designs upon his pot of gold, and even when he finds a number of cooks working in his house, he immediately jumps to the conclusion that they have been sent to his house by Megadorus to steal his pot of gold.
The play beautifully shows a number of transformations that occur in a person’s behavior after a certain point of time. At the beginning of the play we see that Euclio is poor, but when he discovers the treasure (pot of gold) he immediately becomes rich, and when he becomes rich, he becomes avaricious as well as possessive, and when he becomes possessive, he becomes garrulous and quarrelsome. So, one can get the message by reading the play that greed engulfs a man and makes him a mad man.
Plautus exposes the materialistic, acquisitive bent of contemporary Roman society in the figure of Euclio. Again, from this character we get to see how a man fails to distinguish between the importance of a pot of gold and his own daughter when he becomes completely obsessed with his gold.
There is a famous saying, which says, with greed comes an overpowering sense of guilt. Again, Euclio complains to the spectators that he had indeed wanted to spend lavishly on his daughter’s wedding, but, when he gets the pot of gold from his household god, he becomes a complete skinflint.
Euclio’s suspicious nature is the reason behind his utter madness. He fails to distinguish between right and wrong, between good and evil. And this thing makes Euclio a comic character. When he suspects Megadorus of having secret designs upon his pot of gold, when he goes to beat the cooks, when he beats Staphyla, we look at him from a distance and laugh at him. He tries to make himself odious and ridiculous in our eyes, though unknowingly.
But, at the end of the play, Euclio undergoes a great change of heart. When he comes to know that he has lost his pot of gold, at first, he laments, but when he receives the pot of gold from Lyconides and the slave he becomes overjoyed and he presents that to Lyconides as a gift, which shows how great he has become, and how beautiful his heart has been transformed into.
There is a famous saying, “all’s well that ends well” and it goes well with this drama. At the very end of the play we see Euclio’s great transformation. From an extremely stingy man, Euclio becomes the most magnanimous man. He is basically a ridiculous fellow, his character is redeemed firstly by the wounderful transformation which he undergoes at the end of the play and secondly by his picturesque and rhetorical manner of speaking. And these things make Euclio a unique character.
Ans. Titus Maccius Plautus was arguably the most successful Roman Comic dramatist of his age. His popularity lies on creating stock characters. Now, the question is who are these stock characters? According to M. H. Abrams, “stock characters are types of persons that occur repeatedly in a particular literary genre, and so are recognizable as part of the ‘conventions’ of the form.”
The rich miser has been a staple stock figure in ancient Greek comedy, developed first by Theophrastus and then by Menander. Plautus’ magnum opus The Pot of Gold deals with an old man (Euclio) who is extremely avaricious and also excessively close-fisted and stingy. Needless to say the idea of a stock character is beautifully portrayed by Plautus through this character.
Plautus exposes the materialistic, acquisitive bent of contemporary Roman society in the figure of Euclio. Again, from this character we get to see how a man fails to distinguish between the importance of a pot of gold and his own daughter when he becomes etely obsessed with his gold. There is a famous saying, which says, with greed comes an overpowering sense of guilt. Again, Euclio complains to the spectators that he had indeed wanted to spend lavishly on his daughter’s wedding, but, when he gets the pot of gold from his household god, he becomes a complete skinflint.
Euclio’s suspicious nature is the reason behind his utter madness. He fails to distinguish between right and wrong, between good and evil. And this thing makes Euclio a comic character. When he suspects Megadorus of having secret designs upon his pot of gold, when he goes to beat the cooks, when he beats Staphyla, we look at him from a distance and laugh at him. He tries to make himself odious and ridiculous in our eyes, though unknowingly. When Megadorus comes to have a conversation with him, he suspects him for no reason and says philosophically: “It is not without cause.
When a rich man addresses thus the poor. He knows I’ve gold: and hence his kindly words.” (Act-II, Scene-II)
After hearing these kinds of silly speeches from his lips we actually tend to laugh at the person; and that is exactly the case with Euclio here. There is no shadow of doubt that these follies make him an outstanding stock character.
Another important stock character in the play is Megadorus. Though he is the wisest and the most practical man in the play, he reduces himself to an object of ridicule, rather, a laughing-stock. When we first meet him, we look at him with awe, mostly because of his negative attitude towards the practice of giving and receiving dowries. But, with the passage of time, we get to know more about him and we start considering him as a stock character of the play.
Actually, we get to see a major conflict in the drama because of Megadorus’ presence. He is indispensible to the action of the play. If we remove him from the play the entire structure of the play will collapse. In the beginning, when his sister Eunomia speaks to him about the desirability of his getting married and fathering a family, Megadorus expresses his attitude to marriage by saying to his sister:”May I die Before I marry, or on this condition, That she I marry, on the morrow may, Or the day after that be carried out To burial.”
It is important to note that Megadorus is very practical. He is against the dowry system. Again, when Eunomia says that she can find her brother a middle-aged wife who would bring him a rich dowry, Megadorus says he doesn’t want to marry a middle-aged woman. According to him if he marries a middle-aged woman and happens to produce a child, the child would have to grow up without the care of his father because his father would die soon. We tend to laugh at him when we hear that he doesn’t want to marry rich women because they would drag their husbands to the road and make them slaves. Again, we are surprised to know his fascination for Phaedria, rather lust for Phaedria.
But apart from this, we see Megadorus as a realistic character as he gives very sound advice to Lyconides, who by acting upon it achieves his purpose which was to marry Euclio’s daughter, Phaedria.
Last but not the least; Plautus draws a conventional parallel between Megadorus’ search for a young wife and Euclio’s thirst for gold by exposing them both as equally avaricious and obsessive. Finally, Aulularia reflects on, to quote Erich Segal, “the most common dilemma presented in Plautine comedy—that of a young man amans et egens, ‘in love and insolvent’ and turning to his clever slave for salvation.”
Q.4. Comment on the ending of The Pot of Gold?
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INDIAN CLASSICAL LITERATURE
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