Timon of Athens, by William Shakespeare

Act I

Scene I. Athens. A hall in Timon’s house.

Enter Poet, Painter, Jeweller, Merchant, and others, at several doors

Poet Good day, sir.

Painter   I am glad you’re well.

Poet I have not seen you long: how goes the world?

Painter It wears, sir, as it grows.

Poet Ay, that’s well known:
But what particular rarity? what strange,
Which manifold record not matches? See,
Magic of bounty! all these spirits thy power
Hath conjured to attend. I know the merchant.

Painter I know them both; th’ other’s a jeweller.

Merchant O, ’tis a worthy lord.

Jeweller Nay, that’s most fix’d.

Merchant A most incomparable man, breathed, as it were,
To an untirable and continuate goodness:
He passes.
Jeweller: I have a jewel here —

Merchant O, pray, let’s see’t: for the Lord Timon, sir?
Jeweller: If he will touch the estimate: but, for that  —

Poet [Reciting to himself] ‘When we for recompense have praised the vile,
It stains the glory in that happy verse
Which aptly sings the good.’

Merchant ’Tis a good form.

Looking at the jewel

Jeweller And rich: here is a water, look ye.

Painter You are rapt, sir, in some work, some dedication
To the great lord.

Poet   A thing slipp’d idly from me.
Our poesy is as a gum, which oozes
From whence ’tis nourish’d: the fire i’ the flint
Shows not till it be struck; our gentle flame
Provokes itself and like the current flies
Each bound it chafes. What have you there?

Painter A picture, sir. When comes your book forth?

Poet Upon the heels of my presentment, sir.
Let’s see your piece.

Painter ’Tis a good piece.

Poet So ’tis: this comes off well and excellent.

Painter Indifferent.

Poet   Admirable: how this grace
Speaks his own standing! what a mental power
This eye shoots forth! how big imagination
Moves in this lip! to the dumbness of the gesture
One might interpret.

Painter It is a pretty mocking of the life.
Here is a touch; is’t good?

Poet I will say of it,
It tutors nature: artificial strife
Lives in these touches, livelier than life.

Enter certain Senators, and pass over

Painter How this lord is follow’d!

Poet The senators of Athens: happy man!

Painter Look, more!

Poet You see this confluence, this great flood of visitors.
I have, in this rough work, shaped out a man,
Whom this beneath world doth embrace and hug
With amplest entertainment: my free drift
Halts not particularly, but moves itself
In a wide sea of wax: no levell’d malice
Infects one comma in the course I hold;
But flies an eagle flight, bold and forth on,
Leaving no tract behind.

Painter How shall I understand you?

Poet I will unbolt to you.
You see how all conditions, how all minds,
As well of glib and slippery creatures as
Of grave and austere quality, tender down
Their services to Lord Timon: his large fortune
Upon his good and gracious nature hanging
Subdues and properties to his love and tendance
All sorts of hearts; yea, from the glass-faced flatterer
To Apemantus, that few things loves better
Than to abhor himself: even he drops down
The knee before him, and returns in peace
Most rich in Timon’s nod.

Painter I saw them speak together.

Poet Sir, I have upon a high and pleasant hill
Feign’d Fortune to be throned: the base o’ the mount
Is rank’d with all deserts, all kind of natures,
That labour on the bosom of this sphere
To propagate their states: amongst them all,
Whose eyes are on this sovereign lady fix’d,
One do I personate of Lord Timon’s frame,
Whom Fortune with her ivory hand wafts to her;
Whose present grace to present slaves and servants
Translates his rivals.

Painter ’Tis conceived to scope.
This throne, this Fortune, and this hill, methinks,
With one man beckon’d from the rest below,
Bowing his head against the sleepy mount
To climb his happiness, would be well express’d
In our condition.

Poet   Nay, sir, but hear me on.
All those which were his fellows but of late,
Some better than his value, on the moment
Follow his strides, his lobbies fill with tendance,
Rain sacrificial whisperings in his ear,
Make sacred even his stirrup, and through him
Drink the free air.

Painter Ay, marry, what of these?

Poet When Fortune in her shift and change of mood
Spurns down her late beloved, all his dependants
Which labour’d after him to the mountain’s top
Even on their knees and hands, let him slip down,
Not one accompanying his declining foot.

Painter ’Tis common:
A thousand moral paintings I can show
That shall demonstrate these quick blows of Fortune’s
More pregnantly than words. Yet you do well
To show Lord Timon that mean eyes have seen
The foot above the head.

Trumpets sound. Enter Timon, addressing himself courteously to every suitor; a Messenger from Ventidius talking with him; Lucilius and other servants following

Timon Imprison’d is he, say you?

Messenger Ay, my good lord: five talents is his debt,
His means most short, his creditors most strait:
Your honourable letter he desires
To those have shut him up; which failing,
Periods his comfort.

Timon Noble Ventidius! Well;
I am not of that feather to shake off
My friend when he must need me. I do know him
A gentleman that well deserves a help:
Which he shall have: I’ll pay the debt, and free him.

Messenger Your lordship ever binds him.

Timon Commend me to him: I will send his ransom;
And being enfranchised, bid him come to me.
’Tis not enough to help the feeble up,
But to support him after. Fare you well.

Messenger All happiness to your honour!

Exit

Enter an old Athenian

Old Athenian Lord Timon, hear me speak.

Timon Freely, good father.

Old Athenian Thou hast a servant named Lucilius.

Timon I have so: what of him?

Old Athenian Most noble Timon, call the man before thee.

Timon Attends he here, or no? Lucilius!

Lucilius Here, at your lordship’s service.

Old Athenian This fellow here, Lord Timon, this thy creature,
By night frequents my house. I am a man
That from my first have been inclined to thrift;
And my estate deserves an heir more raised
Than one which holds a trencher.

Timon Well; what further?

Old Athenian One only daughter have I, no kin else,
On whom I may confer what I have got:
The maid is fair, o’ the youngest for a bride,
And I have bred her at my dearest cost
In qualities of the best. This man of thine
Attempts her love: I prithee, noble lord,
Join with me to forbid him her resort;
Myself have spoke in vain.

Timon The man is honest.

Old Athenian Therefore he will be, Timon:
His honesty rewards him in itself;
It must not bear my daughter.

Timon Does she love him?

Old Athenian She is young and apt:
Our own precedent passions do instruct us
What levity’s in youth.

Timon [To Lucilius] Love you the maid?

Lucilius Ay, my good lord, and she accepts of it.

Old Athenian If in her marriage my consent be missing,
I call the gods to witness, I will choose
Mine heir from forth the beggars of the world,
And dispossess her all.

Timon How shall she be endow’d, if she be mated with an equal husband?

Old Athenian Three talents on the present; in future, all.

Timon This gentleman of mine hath served me long:
To build his fortune I will strain a little,
For ’tis a bond in men. Give him thy daughter:
What you bestow, in him I’ll counterpoise,
And make him weigh with her.

Old Athenian Most noble lord,
Pawn me to this your honour, she is his.

Timon My hand to thee; mine honour on my promise.

Lucilius Humbly I thank your lordship: never may
The state or fortune fall into my keeping,
Which is not owed to you!

Exeunt Lucilius and Old Athenian

Poet Vouchsafe my labour, and long live your lordship!

Timon I thank you; you shall hear from me anon:
Go not away. What have you there, my friend?

Painter A piece of painting, which I do beseech
Your lordship to accept.

Timon Painting is welcome.
The painting is almost the natural man;
or since dishonour traffics with man’s nature,
He is but outside: these pencill’d figures are
Even such as they give out. I like your work;
And you shall find I like it: wait attendance
Till you hear further from me.

Painter The gods preserve ye!

Timon Well fare you, gentleman: give me your hand;
We must needs dine together. Sir, your jewel
Hath suffer’d under praise.

Jeweller What, my lord! dispraise?

Timon A more satiety of commendations.
If I should pay you for’t as ’tis extoll’d,
It would unclew me quite.

Jeweller My lord, ’tis rated
As those which sell would give: but you well know,
Things of like value differing in the owners
Are prized by their masters: believe’t, dear lord,
You mend the jewel by the wearing it.

Timon Well mock’d.

Merchant No, my good lord; he speaks the common tongue,
Which all men speak with him.

Timon Look, who comes here: will you be chid?

Enter Apemantus

Jeweller: We’ll bear, with your lordship.

Merchant He’ll spare none.

Timon Good morrow to thee, gentle Apemantus!

Apemantus Till I be gentle, stay thou for thy good morrow;
When thou art Timon’s dog, and these knaves honest.

Timon Why dost thou call them knaves? thou know’st them not.

Apemantus Are they not Athenians?

Timon Yes.

Apemantus Then I repent not.
Jeweller: You know me, Apemantus?

Apemantus Thou know’st I do: I call’d thee by thy name.

Timon Thou art proud, Apemantus.

Apemantus Of nothing so much as that I am not like Timon.

Timon Whither art going?

Apemantus To knock out an honest Athenian’s brains.

Timon That’s a deed thou’lt die for.

Apemantus Right, if doing nothing be death by the law.

Timon How likest thou this picture, Apemantus?

Apemantus The best, for the innocence.

Timon Wrought he not well that painted it?

Apemantus He wrought better that made the painter; and yet he’s but a filthy piece of work.

Painter You’re a dog.

Apemantus Thy mother’s of my generation: what’s she, if I be a dog?

Timon Wilt dine with me, Apemantus?

Apemantus No; I eat not lords.

Timon An thou shouldst, thou ’ldst anger ladies.

Apemantus O, they eat lords; so they come by great bellies.

Timon That’s a lascivious apprehension.

Apemantus So thou apprehendest it: take it for thy labour.

Timon How dost thou like this jewel, Apemantus?

Apemantus Not so well as plain-dealing, which will not cost a man a doit.

Timon What dost thou think ’tis worth?

Apemantus Not worth my thinking. How now, poet!

Poet How now, philosopher!

Apemantus Thou liest.

Poet Art not one?

Apemantus Yes.

Poet Then I lie not.

Apemantus Art not a poet?

Poet Yes.

Apemantus Then thou liest: look in thy last work, where thou hast feigned him a worthy fellow.

Poet That’s not feigned; he is so.

Apemantus Yes, he is worthy of thee, and to pay thee for thy labour: he that loves to be flattered is worthy o’ the flatterer. Heavens, that I were a lord!

Timon What wouldst do then, Apemantus?

Apemantus E’en as Apemantus does now; hate a lord with my heart.

Timon What, thyself?

Apemantus Ay.

Timon Wherefore?

Apemantus That I had no angry wit to be a lord.
Art not thou a merchant?

Merchant Ay, Apemantus.

Apemantus Traffic confound thee, if the gods will not!

Merchant If traffic do it, the gods do it.

Apemantus Traffic’s thy god; and thy god confound thee!

Trumpet sounds. Enter a Messenger

Timon What trumpet’s that?

Messenger ’Tis Alcibiades, and some twenty horse,
All of companionship.

Timon Pray, entertain them; give them guide to us.

Exeunt some Attendants

You must needs dine with me: go not you hence
Till I have thank’d you: when dinner’s done,
Show me this piece. I am joyful of your sights.

Enter Alcibiades, with the rest

Most welcome, sir!

Apemantus   So, so, there!
Aches contract and starve your supple joints!
That there should be small love ’mongst these sweet knaves,
And all this courtesy! The strain of man’s bred out
Into baboon and monkey.

Alcibiades Sir, you have saved my longing, and I feed
Most hungerly on your sight.

Timon Right welcome, sir!
Ere we depart, we’ll share a bounteous time
In different pleasures. Pray you, let us in.

Exeunt all except Apemantus

Enter two Lords

First Lord What time o’ day is’t, Apemantus?

Apemantus Time to be honest.

First Lord That time serves still.

Apemantus The more accursed thou, that still omitt’st it.

Second Lord Thou art going to Lord Timon’s feast?

Apemantus Ay, to see meat fill knaves and wine heat fools.

Second Lord Fare thee well, fare thee well.

Apemantus Thou art a fool to bid me farewell twice.

Second Lord Why, Apemantus?

Apemantus Shouldst have kept one to thyself, for I mean to give thee none.

First Lord Hang thyself!

Apemantus No, I will do nothing at thy bidding: make thy requests to thy friend.

Second Lord Away, unpeaceable dog, or I’ll spurn thee hence!

Apemantus I will fly, like a dog, the heels o’ the ass.

Exit

First Lord He’s opposite to humanity. Come, shall we in,
And taste Lord Timon’s bounty? he outgoes
The very heart of kindness.

Second Lord He pours it out; Plutus, the god of gold,
Is but his steward: no meed, but he repays
Sevenfold above itself; no gift to him,
But breeds the giver a return exceeding
All use of quittance.

First Lord The noblest mind he carries
That ever govern’d man.

Second Lord Long may he live in fortunes! Shall we in?

First Lord I’ll keep you company.

Exeunt

Scene II. A banqueting-room in Timon’s house.

Hautboys playing loud music. A great banquet served in; Flavius and others attending; then enter Timon, Alcibiades, Lords, Senators, and Ventidius. Then comes, dropping, after all, Apemantus, discontentedly, like himself

Ventidius Most honour’d Timon,
It hath pleased the gods to remember my father’s age,
And call him to long peace.
He is gone happy, and has left me rich:
Then, as in grateful virtue I am bound
To your free heart, I do return those talents,
Doubled with thanks and service, from whose help
I derived liberty.

Timon   O, by no means,
Honest Ventidius; you mistake my love:
I gave it freely ever; and there’s none
Can truly say he gives, if he receives:
If our betters play at that game, we must not dare
To imitate them; faults that are rich are fair.

Ventidius A noble spirit!

Timon   Nay, my lords,

They all stand ceremoniously looking on Timon

Ceremony was but devised at first
To set a gloss on faint deeds, hollow welcomes,
Recanting goodness, sorry ere ’tis shown;
But where there is true friendship, there needs none.
Pray, sit; more welcome are ye to my fortunes
Than my fortunes to me.

They sit

First Lord My lord, we always have confess’d it.

Apemantus Ho, ho, confess’d it! hang’d it, have you not?

Timon O, Apemantus, you are welcome.

Apemantus No;
You shall not make me welcome:
I come to have thee thrust me out of doors.

Timon Fie, thou’rt a churl; ye’ve got a humour there
Does not become a man: ’tis much to blame.
They say, my lords, ‘ira furor brevis est;’ but yond man is ever angry. Go, let him have a table by himself, for he does neither affect company, nor is he fit for’t, indeed.

Apemantus Let me stay at thine apperil, Timon: I come to observe; I give thee warning on’t.

Timon I take no heed of thee; thou’rt an Athenian, therefore welcome: I myself would have no power; prithee, let my meat make thee silent.

Apemantus I scorn thy meat; ’twould choke me, for I should ne’er flatter thee. O you gods, what a number of men eat Timon, and he sees ’em not! It grieves me to see so many dip their meat in one man’s blood; and all the madness is, he cheers them up too.
I wonder men dare trust themselves with men:
Methinks they should invite them without knives;
Good for their meat, and safer for their lives.
There’s much example for’t; the fellow that sits next him now, parts bread with him, pledges the breath of him in a divided draught, is the readiest man to kill him: ’t has been proved. If I were a huge man, I should fear to drink at meals;
Lest they should spy my windpipe’s dangerous notes:
Great men should drink with harness on their throats.

Timon My lord, in heart; and let the health go round.

Second Lord Let it flow this way, my good lord.

Apemantus Flow this way! A brave fellow! he keeps his tides well. Those healths will make thee and thy state look ill, Timon. Here’s that which is too weak to be a sinner, honest water, which ne’er left man i’ the mire:
This and my food are equals; there’s no odds:
Feasts are too proud to give thanks to the gods.
Apemantus’ grace.
Immortal gods, I crave no pelf;
I pray for no man but myself:
Grant I may never prove so fond,
To trust man on his oath or bond;
Or a harlot, for her weeping;
Or a dog, that seems a-sleeping:
Or a keeper with my freedom;
Or my friends, if I should need ’em.
Amen. So fall to’t:
Rich men sin, and I eat root.

Eats and drinks

Much good dich thy good heart, Apemantus!

Timon Captain Alcibiades, your heart’s in the field now.

Alcibiades My heart is ever at your service, my lord.

Timon You had rather be at a breakfast of enemies than a dinner of friends.

Alcibiades So the were bleeding-new, my lord, there’s no meat like ’em: I could wish my best friend at such a feast.

Apemantus Would all those fatterers were thine enemies then, that then thou mightst kill ’em and bid me to ’em!

First Lord Might we but have that happiness, my lord, that you would once use our hearts, whereby we might express some part of our zeals, we should think ourselves for ever perfect.

Timon O, no doubt, my good friends, but the gods themselves have provided that I shall have much help from you: how had you been my friends else? why have you that charitable title from thousands, did not you chiefly belong to my heart? I have told more of you to myself than you can with modesty speak in your own behalf; and thus far I confirm you. O you gods, think I, what need we have any friends, if we should ne’er have need of ’em? they were the most needless creatures living, should we ne’er have use for ’em, and would most resemble sweet instruments hung up in cases that keep their sounds to themselves. Why, I have often wished myself poorer, that I might come nearer to you. We are born to do benefits: and what better or properer can we can our own than the riches of our friends? O, what a precious comfort ’tis, to have so many, like brothers, commanding one another’s fortunes! O joy, e’en made away ere ’t can be born! Mine eyes cannot hold out water, methinks: to forget their faults, I drink to you.

Apemantus Thou weepest to make them drink, Timon.

Second Lord Joy had the like conception in our eyes
And at that instant like a babe sprung up.

Apemantus Ho, ho! I laugh to think that babe a bastard.

Third Lord I promise you, my lord, you moved me much.

Apemantus Much!

Tucket, within

Timon What means that trump?

Enter a Servant

How now?

Servant Please you, my lord, there are certain ladies most desirous of admittance.

Timon Ladies! what are their wills?

Servant There comes with them a forerunner, my lord, which bears that office, to signify their pleasures.

Timon I pray, let them be admitted.

Enter Cupid

Cupid Hail to thee, worthy Timon, and to all
That of his bounties taste! The five best senses
Acknowledge thee their patron; and come freely
To gratulate thy plenteous bosom: th’ ear,
Taste, touch and smell, pleased from thy tale rise;
They only now come but to feast thine eyes.

Timon They’re welcome all; let ’em have kind admittance:
Music, make their welcome!

Exit Cupid

First Lord You see, my lord, how ample you’re beloved.

Music. Re-enter Cupid with a mask of Ladies as Amazons, with lutes in their hands, dancing and playing

Apemantus Hoy-day, what a sweep of vanity comes this way!
They dance! they are mad women.
Like madness is the glory of this life.
As this pomp shows to a little oil and root.
We make ourselves fools, to disport ourselves;
And spend our flatteries, to drink those men
Upon whose age we void it up again,
With poisonous spite and envy.
Who lives that’s not depraved or depraves?
Who dies, that bears not one spurn to their graves
Of their friends’ gift?
I should fear those that dance before me now
Would one day stamp upon me: ’t has been done;
Men shut their doors against a setting sun.

The Lords rise from table, with much adoring of Timon; and to show their loves, each singles out an Amazon, and all dance, men with women, a lofty strain or two to the hautboys, and cease

Timon You have done our pleasures much grace, fair ladies,
Set a fair fashion on our entertainment,
Which was not half so beautiful and kind;
You have added worth unto ’t and lustre,
And entertain’d me with mine own device;
I am to thank you for ’t.

First Lady My lord, you take us even at the best.

Apemantus ’Faith, for the worst is filthy; and would not hold taking, I doubt me.

Timon Ladies, there is an idle banquet attends you:
Please you to dispose yourselves.

All Ladies Most thankfully, my lord.

Exeunt Cupid and Ladies

Timon Flavius.

Flavius My lord?

Timon   The little casket bring me hither.

Flavius Yes, my lord. More jewels yet!
There is no crossing him in ’s humour;

Aside

Else I should tell him — well, i’ faith I should,
When all’s spent, he ’ld be cross’d then, an he could.
’Tis pity bounty had not eyes behind,
That man might ne’er be wretched for his mind.

Exit

First Lord Where be our men?

Servant Here, my lord, in readiness.

Second Lord Our horses!

Re-enter Flavius, with the casket

Timon   O my friends,
I have one word to say to you: look you, my good lord,
I must entreat you, honour me so much
As to advance this jewel; accept it and wear it,
Kind my lord.

First Lord I am so far already in your gifts  —

All So are we all.

Enter a Servant

Servant My lord, there are certain nobles of the senate
Newly alighted, and come to visit you.

Timon They are fairly welcome.

Flavius I beseech your honour,
Vouchsafe me a word; it does concern you near.

Timon Near! why then, another time I’ll hear thee:
I prithee, let’s be provided to show them entertainment.

Flavius [Aside] I scarce know how.

Enter a Second Servant

Second Servant May it please your honour, Lord Lucius,
Out of his free love, hath presented to you
Four milk-white horses, trapp’d in silver.

Timon I shall accept them fairly; let the presents
Be worthily entertain’d.

Enter a third Servant

How now! what news?

Third Servant Please you, my lord, that honourable gentleman, Lord Lucullus, entreats your company to-morrow to hunt with him, and has sent your honour two brace of greyhounds.

Timon I’ll hunt with him; and let them be received,
Not without fair reward.

Flavius [Aside] What will this come to?
He commands us to provide, and give great gifts,
And all out of an empty coffer:
Nor will he know his purse, or yield me this,
To show him what a beggar his heart is,
Being of no power to make his wishes good:
His promises fly so beyond his state
That what he speaks is all in debt; he owes
For every word: he is so kind that he now
Pays interest for ’t; his land’s put to their books.
Well, would I were gently put out of office
Before I were forced out!
Happier is he that has no friend to feed
Than such that do e’en enemies exceed.
I bleed inwardly for my lord.

Exit

Timon You do yourselves
Much wrong, you bate too much of your own merits:
Here, my lord, a trifle of our love.

Second Lord With more than common thanks I will receive it.

Third Lord O, he’s the very soul of bounty!

Timon And now I remember, my lord, you gave
Good words the other day of a bay courser
I rode on: it is yours, because you liked it.

Second Lord O, I beseech you, pardon me, my lord, in that.

Timon You may take my word, my lord; I know, no man
Can justly praise but what he does affect:
I weigh my friend’s affection with mine own;
I’ll tell you true. I’ll call to you.

All Lords O, none so welcome.

Timon I take all and your several visitations
So kind to heart, ’tis not enough to give;
Methinks, I could deal kingdoms to my friends,
And ne’er be weary. Alcibiades,
Thou art a soldier, therefore seldom rich;
It comes in charity to thee: for all thy living
Is ’mongst the dead, and all the lands thou hast
Lie in a pitch’d field.

Alcibiades Ay, defiled land, my lord.

First Lord We are so virtuously bound  —

Timon And so
Am I to you.

Second Lord So infinitely endear’d  —

Timon All to you. Lights, more lights!

First Lord The best of happiness,
Honour and fortunes, keep with you, Lord Timon!

Timon Ready for his friends.

Exeunt all but Apemantus and Timon

Apemantus What a coil’s here!
Serving of becks and jutting-out of bums!
I doubt whether their legs be worth the sums
That are given for ’em. Friendship’s full of dregs:
Methinks, false hearts should never have sound legs,
Thus honest fools lay out their wealth on court’sies.

Timon Now, Apemantus, if thou wert not sullen, I would be good to thee.

Apemantus No, I’ll nothing: for if I should be bribed too, there would be none left to rail upon thee, and then thou wouldst sin the faster. Thou givest so long, Timon, I fear me thou wilt give away thyself in paper shortly: what need these feasts, pomps and vain-glories?

Timon Nay, an you begin to rail on society once, I am sworn not to give regard to you. Farewell; and come with better music.

Exit

Apemantus So:
Thou wilt not hear me now; thou shalt not then:
I’ll lock thy heaven from thee.
O, that men’s ears should be
To counsel deaf, but not to flattery!

Exit

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Last updated Saturday, April 26, 2014 at 23:01