Plutus

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Eirene with the infant Ploutos: Roman copy after Kephisodotos' votive statue, c. 370BCE, in the Agora, Athens

Plutus /ˈpltəs/ (Greek: Πλοῦτος, Ploutos, literally "wealth") was the god of wealth in ancient Greek religion and myth. He was either the son of Demeter[1] and Iasion, with whom she lay in a thrice-ploughed field; or the child of Plouton and Persephone[2]. In the theology of the Eleusinian Mysteries he was regarded as the "Divine Child."

In the arts[edit]

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.[3] 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:

In Canto VII of Dante's The 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.

Etymology[edit]

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

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  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. ^ 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).
  3. ^ Plutus (Wealth, second version, 388 BC)

References[edit]

External links[edit]