The Pot of Gold By Plautus Notes | BBMKU Semester 2

The Pot of Gold, known in Latin as “Aulularia,” is a classic work by the Roman playwright Plautus. It belongs to the genre of Roman comedy and is characterized by its humorous and satirical treatment of themes such as greed and social interaction. Plautus, whose full name was Titus Maccius Plautus, is one of the most celebrated playwrights of ancient Rome, and his works have had a lasting influence on Western literature and drama.

“Aulularia” was written in the early 2nd century BCE, although the exact date of its composition is not definitively known. The play was originally composed in Latin, the lingua franca of the Roman Empire at the time. Plautus’ comedies, including “The Pot of Gold,” were performed in public theatres and were popular among a wide range of audiences.

The plot revolves around Euclio, a miserly old man who discovers a pot of gold buried in his house. His obsessive efforts to safeguard the treasure lead to a series of comic situations, highlighting the absurdity of excessive greed and mistrust. Despite its ancient origins, the play’s exploration of human nature and societal values continues to resonate with modern audiences.


“The Pot of Gold” (Aulularia) features several key characters, each contributing to the comedic and thematic elements of the play:

  1. Euclio: The main character, is an old miser who discovers a hidden pot of gold. His obsession with protecting his newfound wealth drives the plot and leads to numerous comedic situations.
  2. Phaedria: Euclio’s daughter, who is young and virtuous. Her fate is closely tied to the events surrounding her father’s treasure.
  3. Lyconides: A young man in love with Phaedria. He plays a crucial role in the resolution of the play’s conflicts.
  4. Strobilus: A clever and resourceful slave who serves Lyconides. His actions and schemes add to the comedy and complexity of the plot.
  5. Megadorus: Euclio’s wealthy neighbour, who seeks to marry Phaedria. His intentions and interactions with Euclio provide additional humour and insight into the theme of wealth.
  6. Eunomia: Megadorus’s sister and the mother of Lyconides. She is involved in the plans for the marriage between Megadorus and Phaedria.


“The Pot of Gold” (Aulularia) by Plautus is a Roman comedy that revolves around the themes of greed and deception. Here is a detailed summary of the play:

Act I

The play begins with Euclio, a miserly old man, who has recently discovered a pot of gold hidden in his house. This gold had been buried by his grandfather, and it was revealed to Euclio by the household’s guardian spirit. Euclio’s discovery makes him extremely paranoid, and he becomes obsessed with guarding the gold from everyone, suspecting that everyone around him is out to steal it.

Act II

Euclio’s daughter, Phaedria, is a modest and beautiful young woman. Unknown to Euclio, Phaedria is pregnant by Lyconides, a young man from a good family. Lyconides wishes to marry Phaedria, but his mother, Eunomia, disapproves of the match because of Phaedria’s lack of dowry.

Megadorus, Euclio’s wealthy neighbor and Eunomia’s brother, decides he wants to marry Phaedria despite her lack of dowry. He approaches Euclio with a proposal, and Euclio, fearing for his gold, initially refuses but eventually agrees, thinking it might be a good match for his daughter.


Meanwhile, Lyconides, who is genuinely in love with Phaedria, learns of Megadorus’s plan to marry her. He is distressed and confides in his clever slave, Strobilus. Strobilus devises a plan to help his master.

As the preparations for the wedding proceed, Euclio becomes increasingly paranoid about his gold. He constantly checks on it, moves it, and suspects everyone of trying to steal it.

Act IV

On the day of the wedding, Euclio decides to hide his pot of gold in a sacred grove. However, Strobilus, who has been spying on Euclio, discovers the hiding place and steals the gold. When Euclio goes back to check on his treasure, he finds it gone and is driven to despair.

Act V

Lyconides, unaware of his slave’s actions, approaches Euclio to confess his love for Phaedria and to admit his role in her pregnancy. Euclio, distraught over the loss of his gold, accuses Lyconides of stealing it. Lyconides, realizing the misunderstanding, promises to help recover the gold.

Strobilus, feeling guilty, returns the pot of gold to Lyconides, who then gives it back to Euclio. Euclio, relieved and grateful, agrees to the marriage between Lyconides and Phaedria.


In the end, Euclio, realizing the trouble his obsession with the gold has caused, decides to give the gold to Phaedria as a dowry. The play concludes on a happy note with the union of Lyconides and Phaedria, and Euclio’s recognition of the folly of his greed.

“The Pot of Gold” is a comedy that uses humor and irony to critique human vices such as greed and paranoia. Through its engaging plot and memorable characters, it delivers a timeless message about the importance of generosity and trust.


“The Pot of Gold” (Aulularia) by Plautus explores several themes, primarily centered around human behavior and societal values. Here are the key themes:

1. Greed and Avarice

The central theme of the play is greed, embodied by the character of Euclio. His obsessive concern for his pot of gold leads to paranoia, irrational behavior, and ultimately, social isolation. Plautus uses Euclio’s character to illustrate the destructive power of greed and how it can corrupt one’s morals and judgment.

2. Paranoia and Distrust

Euclio’s intense fear of losing his gold makes him suspicious of everyone around him. This paranoia is a direct consequence of his greed and leads to a series of misunderstandings and comic situations. The play highlights how excessive mistrust can disrupt relationships and lead to unnecessary conflict.

3. The Folly of Wealth

Plautus critiques the notion that wealth brings happiness. Despite finding the gold, Euclio’s life is not improved; instead, he becomes more anxious and troubled. The play suggests that the pursuit of wealth for its own sake is foolish and can lead to one’s downfall.

4. Social Status and Marriage

The play also touches on themes of social status and marriage. Phaedria’s lack of dowry is initially a barrier to her marriage prospects, reflecting societal norms that valued wealth and social standing in marital arrangements. However, the resolution of the play, with Euclio giving the gold as a dowry, critiques these norms and underscores the importance of love and personal virtue over material wealth.

5. Deception and Trickery

Deception is a recurring element in the play, from Strobilus’s schemes to Euclio’s efforts to hide his gold. These acts of trickery create much of the play’s humor but also serve to underline the themes of mistrust and the lengths to which individuals will go to protect or acquire wealth.

6. Generosity and Redemption

In the end, Euclio’s decision to give the gold as a dowry for his daughter signifies a moment of generosity and redemption. This act suggests that redemption is possible through selflessness and that true happiness comes from caring for others rather than hoarding wealth.

Through these themes, “The Pot of Gold” offers a humorous yet poignant critique of human vices and societal values, making it a timeless piece that resonates with audiences across different eras.


1. What is “The Pot of Gold” about? “The Pot of Gold” follows Euclio, a miserly old man who discovers a hidden pot of gold. His obsessive efforts to protect his newfound wealth lead to a series of humorous and chaotic events, highlighting themes of greed, paranoia, and the folly of valuing money over human relationships.

2. What is the significance of the pot of gold in the play? The pot of gold represents both wealth and the destructive nature of greed. It serves as the central plot device driving Euclio’s paranoia and irrational behavior. The gold’s significance is also symbolic, highlighting how the pursuit and possession of wealth can lead to personal and social turmoil.

3. How does Plautus use humor to address serious themes? Plautus employs humor through exaggerated characters, witty dialogue, and comedic situations to explore serious themes such as greed, mistrust, and the folly of wealth. By making the audience laugh at Euclio’s absurd behavior and the ensuing chaos, Plautus effectively critiques human vices and societal values, making the themes more accessible and impactful.

4. How does “The Pot of Gold” end? The play ends on a happy note. After many misunderstandings and comic mishaps, Lyconides retrieves Euclio’s stolen gold and returns it to him. Euclio then decides to use the gold as a dowry for Phaedria, allowing her to marry Lyconides. This act of generosity leads to the reconciliation of the characters and a positive resolution.

5. Why is “The Pot of Gold” significant in literary history? “The Pot of Gold” is significant for its timeless exploration of human vices and virtues through comedy. Plautus’s skillful blend of humor and social critique has influenced many later playwrights and continues to resonate with audiences. The play remains an important work in the study of ancient Roman literature and the development of comedic theater.

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