In Utopia, gold represents the goal and prize of human pride and domination. Rich men and women adorn themselves with it to prove their superiority to others; thieves and princes exploit others to get it; nations send men out to fight and die for it. And all this occurs despite the fact that gold is, practically speaking, useless. The Utopians, in contrast to their European counterparts, loathe gold, even though they don’t by any means lack it. The Utopians even fetter their slaves with gold to shame them, just as people in other societies symbolically fetter themselves to their own lust for gold. Ultimately More presents gold as a proud, idle metal: nothing useful comes of it, and it can’t be made into anything useful. We might think, as the Utopians no doubt do, that any society that considers gold to be valuable is a wicked society indeed. Raphael Hythloday, for one, would agree; he thinks that the principle condition which gives rise to gold-lust is the institution of private property, which in his account turns people into ravenous getters and debauched spenders. The Utopians, however, have killed pride and idleness by abolishing private property. When everyone has what they need, materially and spiritually, they have no need of vain superfluities like gold.
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The timeline below shows where the symbol Gold appears in Utopia. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Book 2: Of the Travelling of the Utopians
...then, the three ambassadors, accompanied by a hundred servants, dressed in gorgeous silks and dazzling gold jewelry and precious stones—only for the Utopians to mistake the ambassadors’ servants for lords and... (full context)
Book 2: Of Their Military Discipline
...fight “dirty” in war: they distribute pamphlets among their enemy’s population, promising substantial rewards of gold and land to anyone who kills or captures their enemy’s prince and other proclaimed adversaries—alive... (full context)
...that they aren’t deployed in war unless the need arises. Instead, the Utopians store up gold, silver, and debt abroad for virtually one purpose alone: to avoid war altogether, or to... (full context)