Immorality Of Wealth By Aristophanes And Aquinas

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Aristophanes and Aquinas disagree completely on the topic of material possessions. They are as divergent in opinions are they are in writing style, with the former’s plays in support of the inevitable power of business and the latter’s articles condemning the immorality of wealth. Aristophanes believes money to be the absolute power, that men are helpless before it and should not try to escape it, but instead make the best they can of it and then enjoy the fruits of their labor. He thinks that wealth should fall to the moral yet praises the benefits of the world without equality. In contrast, Aquinas ruthlessly criticizes those who acquire wealth, demonizes profit, and urges the people that it is the natural state of things to be free of …show more content…
In Wasps, is money that runs the government; in Peace it keeps pointless wars waging; and in Plutus it even controls the hierarchy of the gods. “Every mortal thing subserves to wealth,” he says in Plutus. According to him, money is inevitable and there is no shame in pursuing it. Aquinas could not disagree more – he lays out plans for a world where humans have overcome the greed and vice of wealth. “One human being cannot have too many external riches without another having too little” he points out scathingly (ST I-II Q.118 A.1). There is no enjoyment to be had in it, only knowledge that it was taken from some one else’s pocket. Money represents human weakness and Aquinas believes it can and should be worked out of society’s patterns. To Aristophanes, wealth is amoral, reigns over the gods themselves, and is the reason that the world keeps turning. To Aquinas, wealth is immoral, inexcusable, and contrary to divine law …show more content…
In Plutus, the god of wealth himself says, “I used to brag I’d visit none except the wise and good.” To Aristophanes, money should belong to those who are moral – even if he later goes on to explain why it logically can’t. Money is the ultimate reward, one that is not distributed to those that deserve it, but that is rightly worth fighting for. There is nothing wrong with going after it, although as explained in his play Clouds, there are “wrong” ways of getting it. It is the means and not the money itself that villanizes wealth for Aristophanes. Meanwhile, Aquinas condemns all business “since it as such is devoted to satisfying the desire for profit, and such desire knows to bounds and always strives for more” (ST II-III Q.77 A.4). It is just another source of unprincipled, base desires that distract men from virtuous living. Money should only be made if it is necessary for survival, but the accumulation of wealth for luxury’s sake is a terrible sin, the mark of a person filled with greed and overcome by selfishness. Aristophanes celebrates the happy circumstances that lead to wealth – he knows it is fickle but also acknowledges the joy of its power. He recognizes that one’s economic status has little to do with one’s morality. Aquinas sees wealth as dangerous, a vice that should always be kept on a tight leash and a situation directly correlated to one’s virtue.

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