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In Plato's Symposium, Penae /ˈpˌn/ ("deficiency" or "poverty" in Latin) or Penia /ˈpniə/ (Πενία; "deficiency" or "poverty" in Greek) was the personification of poverty and need. She married Porus at Aphrodite's birthday and was sometimes considered the mother of Eros. Her sisters are Amechania and Ptocheia. Penia was also mentioned by other ancient Greek writers such as Alcaeus (Fragment 364), Theognis (Fragment 1; 267, 351, 649), Aristophanes (Plutus, 414ff), Herodotus, Plutarch (Life of Themistocles), and Philostratus (Life of Apollonius).

General Portrayal[edit]

Penia was considered to be a female, in contrast with Plutus (Wealth) who was male. She is portrayed as old and ugly, in constant need of money and shelter. She often appears in the presence of her opposite Plutus, god of wealth, as in Plato's "Symposium" and Aristophanes' "Wealth."

In Plato's Symposium[edit]

Perhaps one of the most famous mentions is in Plato's Symposium (203b-e), a Socratic Dialogue written by Plato c. 385–370 BC. She is part of a story narrated by Socrates, that he originally heard from a priestess by the name of Diotima. There, Penia appears during a banquet thrown by the gods to celebrate the birth of Aphrodite, in order to beg. She spots Plutus, god of wealth, passed out cold from drinking too much nectar and decides to sleep with him in secret, and in the hopes that she will alleviate her misery. Instead, she becomes pregnant with Eros, god of love who, in contrast with his usual portrayal, is in fact ugly and rough just like him mother. From his father however, Plutus, Love inherited the knowledge of all things beautiful, which he desires above anything else.