Magazine article The Spectator

ANCIENT AND MODERN - Time to Learn from Poverty

Magazine article The Spectator

ANCIENT AND MODERN - Time to Learn from Poverty

Article excerpt

As Greeks howl for other people's money and the EU coughs up, both should reflect on Aristophanes' comedy Wealth (Ploutos) , which pinpointed the mindsets 2,400 years ago.

Chremylus, a poor man, brings home a blind man, who turns out to be the god Wealth. Blinded by Zeus so that he cannot distinguish the good man from the bad, he bestows riches on the bad alone (a typical Greek take on life).

Chremylus restores his sight at the shrine of Asclepius and returns home to find his cistern full of olive oil and his crockery turned to gold and silver.

The rest of the play is taken up with the amusing consequences - e. g. , a starving Hermes complains everyone is so rich that they no longer offer the gods sacrifices, and is found a job in the kitchen. It culminates in the decision to install Wealth in the state treasury on the Acropolis: every modern Greek's fantasy.

Aristophanes, however, is not that simple-minded. In the course of the play, Poverty, a hideous old woman, makes an entrance. Mocked and reviled, she argues that poverty turns men into lean, implacable fighters, not fat, gouty ones like the rich; it bestows wisdom, not a lust for power; and nurtures justice, not anti-democratic criminality. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.