Vol 9 (2019)

L’anima buona dell’Attica: una teodicea economica nel “Pluto”

Francesco Morosi
Scuola Normale Superiore
Published October 1, 2020


The paper conducts a comparative analysis of Aristophanes’ last extant play, Wealth, and Bertolt Brecht’s The good person of Szechwan (1940). Both Chremylos and Shen Te cope with a similar problem, the relation between ethics and wealth: why do good people strive, whereas unjust people get richer and richer? In both plays, the question has to do with gods, and with an economic form of theodicy: if the gods exist, why are just people poor? In The good person, Shen Te tries to observe the gods’ commandments, but finds out that those commandments are at odds with the economic structure of the world; in Wealth, Chremylos needs to replace Zeus with Ploutos – the god of wealth – in order to re-establish the correct relationship between justice and money. The two plays, thus, share a fundamental materialistic approach towards religion and theodicy. However, the paper will try to show that they come to quite opposite conclusions.