Dionysus and Plutus (Ploutos), BM F68

In the same way,
when fair-haired Demeter was overcome
with passion and had sex with Iasion
in a thrice-ploughed fallow field, soon enough
Zeus heard of it and annihilated him
by throwing down his dazzling lightning bolt. Homer
Odyssey v. 125

In Greek mythology, Plutus (gr. Ploutos "wealth", Πλοῦτος) was a son of Demeter and the Titan Iasion (Hes. Theog. 969, &c.; Hom. Hymn. in Cer. 491, Odyssey v. 125). and was the personification and god of wealth and money. He was 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. He is associated with Hades and often portrayed with a horn of plenty (sometimes known as a cornucopia).

Plutus, by the Ancient Greek comedy playwright Aristophanes, tells a story where the god's sight is restored. He is then able to determine who is deserving of wealth.

In Lucian of Samosata's satirical dialogue Timon, Ploutus, the very embodiment of worldly goods written up in a parchment will, says to Hermes:

it is not Zeus who sends me, but Pluto, who has his own ways of conferring wealth and making presents; Pluto and Plutus are not unconnected, you see. When I am to flit from one house to another, they lay me on parchment, seal me up carefully, make a parcel of me and take me round. The dead man lies in some dark corner, shrouded from the knees upward in an old sheet, with the cats fighting for possession of him, while those who have expectations wait for me in the public place, gaping as wide as young swallows that scream for their mother's return.

Eirene and Ploutos and a Greek Stamp dedicated to the United Nations and Peace.

100 Greek Drachmae, 1913 with Eirene and Ploutos

At Thebes there was a statue of Tyche, at Athens one of Eirene, and at Thespiae one of Athena Ergane; and in each of these cases Plutus was represented as the child of those divinities, symbolically expressing the sources of wealth (Paus. ix. 16. § 1, 26. § 5). Hyginus (Poet. Astr. ii. 4) calls him the brother of Philomelus.

Tyche and Ploutos

Words with the prefix Pluto- (implying wealth)

Like many other figures in Greek and Roman mythology, Plutus' name leads to many modern words. These include:

  • Plutocracy: Rule by the wealthiest
  • Plutonomics: The study of wealth management
  • Plutocrat: Wealthy ruler
  • Plutolatry: the "worship" of money
  • Plutomania: the delusion that one is immensely wealthy

Character in Dante's Divine Comedy

In Canto VII of Dante's Divine Comedy, Plutus (Pluto in the original Italian) is a wolf-like demon of wealth which guards over the fourth circle of hell, the Hoarders and the Wasters.

Mythology Images

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