Play by Aristophanes, Athens, 388 BC.
Chremylus is a good albeit pour citizen of Athens and does not like rich and bad
people. He wants to get rich himself, and heads for advice to Apollo's temple. Apollo
tells him he should invite the first man he meets after having left the temple. This turns
out to be a dirty blind old grumpy little man, a god, though: Plutus, the god of riches.
Chremylus is astonished by Plutus' fatuity, and his slave Cario wonders suspiciously whether it might be a Jew, but both realise they face the mightiest of all gods, because riches are what we sacrifice to the gods to get even more of it. Hermes, the god of trade and theft, must be, they conclude after some thinking, one of his employees, and even Zeus' mood is not insensitive to this frail deity.
Chremylus does not let his chance go by but he is far from selfish: he sets out to cure the god's eye complaints, in order to prevent him from acquiring wrong company, and in the future to restrict himself to meeting good people.
Chremylus feels attracted by the idea of Riches with eyesight. Penia, the goddess of poverty, sees some dangers in that idea and tries to communicate them to Chremylus: if being good is going to get rewarded, everybody will become good and hence rich. Then who will be willing to work for us?? No slave, no shipbuilder. Science and technique will rust. And you will have to do your own laundry.
Chremylus suggests we might buy slaves from Thessalia. But when Penia asks whether the Thessalians have to stay poor, we of course all run out of patience and yell her off the stage, rejoicing what is to come.
The crowd around Chremylus is growing. Plutus is taken to the sanctuary of Asklepios, where all receive instructions to lay down to sleep for the night and not to react on any sounds and Cario, unable to sleep, is ahead of the priest in drinking the sacrificed soup. Cario also deserves our gratefulness for witnessing the temple snakes licking Plutus eyelids and, O sacred mystery, his sight is restored! Now nobody can sleep anymore and a spontaneous party starts in the temple.
Early morning a motley crowd sets out for Chremylus' house and not much later lovely odours of roasted meat caresses our noses.
And Chremylus is far from inhospitable! Grateful righteous poor announce themselves, a plaintiff enters to register a complaint about the decline of his business, claims that Plutus is a threat to democracy and is beaten up by the cheering crowd. We all feel sorry for one sad moment for a rich old lady in desperate search for her young lover.
And then suddenly Hermes himself enters. Zeus is furious, he explains to Cario: the trade of sacrificing is spoiled dramatically. Cario makes an attempt to obtain some comments from Hermes on the earlier advantages for humans in sacrifice, but Hermes skips the matter: to hell with the other gods, he is hungry and wishes to enter. After it has been made clear to him that Plutus, now his sight is restored, refuses to have a god of trade and theft in his company, Hermes remembers he also is the god of games. This saves his rights, he can enter.
A priest of an ill visited Zeus temple is announced, trembling for the wrath of his god for this treason. Chremylus reassures him: inside Zeus entertains the guests.