Timon of Athens, by William Shakespeare

Act V

Scene I. The woods. Before Timon’s cave.

Enter Poet and Painter; Timon watching them from his cave

Painter

As I took note of the place, it cannot be far where he abides.

Poet

What’s to be thought of him? does the rumour hold for true, that he’s so full of gold?

Painter

Certain: Alcibiades reports it; Phrynia and Timandra had gold of him: he likewise enriched poor straggling soldiers with great quantity: ’tis said he gave unto his steward a mighty sum.

Poet

Then this breaking of his has been but a try for his friends.

Painter

Nothing else: you shall see him a palm in Athens again, and flourish with the highest. Therefore ’tis not amiss we tender our loves to him, in this supposed distress of his: it will show honestly in us; and is very likely to load our purposes with what they travail for, if it be a just true report that goes of his having.

Poet

What have you now to present unto him?

Painter

Nothing at this time but my visitation: only I will promise him an excellent piece.

Poet

I must serve him so too, tell him of an intent that’s coming toward him.

Painter

Good as the best. Promising is the very air o’ the time: it opens the eyes of expectation: performance is ever the duller for his act; and, but in the plainer and simpler kind of people, the deed of saying is quite out of use. To promise is most courtly and fashionable: performance is a kind of will or testament which argues a great sickness in his judgment that makes it.

Timon comes from his cave, behind

Timon

[Aside] Excellent workman! thou canst not paint a man so bad as is thyself.

Poet

I am thinking what I shall say I have provided for him: it must be a personating of himself; a satire against the softness of prosperity, with a discovery of the infinite flatteries that follow youth and opulency.

Timon

[Aside] Must thou needs stand for a villain in thine own work? wilt thou whip thine own faults in other men? Do so, I have gold for thee.

Poet

Nay, let’s seek him:
Then do we sin against our own estate,
When we may profit meet, and come too late.

Painter

True;
When the day serves, before black-corner’d night,
Find what thou want’st by free and offer’d light. Come.

Timon

[Aside] I’ll meet you at the turn. What a god’s gold,
That he is worshipp’d in a baser temple
Than where swine feed!
’Tis thou that rigg’st the bark and plough’st the foam,
Settlest admired reverence in a slave:
To thee be worship! and thy saints for aye
Be crown’d with plagues that thee alone obey!
Fit I meet them.

Coming forward

Poet

Hail, worthy Timon!

Painter

Our late noble master!

Timon

Have I once lived to see two honest men?

Poet

Sir,
Having often of your open bounty tasted,
Hearing you were retired, your friends fall’n off,
Whose thankless natures — O abhorred spirits! —
Not all the whips of heaven are large enough:
What! to you,
Whose star-like nobleness gave life and influence
To their whole being! I am rapt and cannot cover
The monstrous bulk of this ingratitude
With any size of words.

Timon

Let it go naked, men may see’t the better:
You that are honest, by being what you are,
Make them best seen and known.

Painter

He and myself
Have travail’d in the great shower of your gifts,
And sweetly felt it.

Timon

Ay, you are honest men.

Painter

We are hither come to offer you our service.

Timon

Most honest men! Why, how shall I requite you?
Can you eat roots, and drink cold water? no.

Both

What we can do, we’ll do, to do you service.

Timon

Ye’re honest men: ye’ve heard that I have gold;
I am sure you have: speak truth; ye’re honest men.

Painter

So it is said, my noble lord; but therefore
Came not my friend nor I.

Timon

Good honest men! Thou draw’st a counterfeit
Best in all Athens: thou’rt, indeed, the best;
Thou counterfeit’st most lively.

Painter

So, so, my lord.

Timon

E’en so, sir, as I say. And, for thy fiction,
Why, thy verse swells with stuff so fine and smooth
That thou art even natural in thine art.
But, for all this, my honest-natured friends,
I must needs say you have a little fault:
Marry, ’tis not monstrous in you, neither wish I
You take much pains to mend.

Both

Beseech your honour
To make it known to us.

Timon

You’ll take it ill.

Both

Most thankfully, my lord.

Timon

Will you, indeed?

Both

Doubt it not, worthy lord.

Timon

There’s never a one of you but trusts a knave,
That mightily deceives you.

Both

Do we, my lord?

Timon

Ay, and you hear him cog, see him dissemble,
Know his gross patchery, love him, feed him,
Keep in your bosom: yet remain assured
That he’s a made-up villain.

Painter

I know none such, my lord.

Poet

Nor I.

Timon

Look you, I love you well; I’ll give you gold,
Rid me these villains from your companies:
Hang them or stab them, drown them in a draught,
Confound them by some course, and come to me,
I’ll give you gold enough.

Both

Name them, my lord, let’s know them.

Timon

You that way and you this, but two in company;
Each man apart, all single and alone,
Yet an arch-villain keeps him company.
If where thou art two villains shall not be,
Come not near him. If thou wouldst not reside
But where one villain is, then him abandon.
Hence, pack! there’s gold; you came for gold, ye slaves:

To Painter

You have work’d for me; there’s payment for you: hence!

To Poet

You are an alchemist; make gold of that.
Out, rascal dogs!

Beats them out, and then retires to his cave

Enter Flavius and two Senators

Flavius

It is in vain that you would speak with Timon;
For he is set so only to himself
That nothing but himself which looks like man
Is friendly with him.

First Senator

Bring us to his cave:
It is our part and promise to the Athenians
To speak with Timon.

Second Senator

At all times alike
Men are not still the same: ’twas time and griefs
That framed him thus: time, with his fairer hand,
Offering the fortunes of his former days,
The former man may make him. Bring us to him,
And chance it as it may.

Flavius

Here is his cave.
Peace and content be here! Lord Timon! Timon!
Look out, and speak to friends: the Athenians,
By two of their most reverend senate, greet thee:
Speak to them, noble Timon.

Timon comes from his cave

Timon

Thou sun, that comfort’st, burn! Speak, and be hang’d:
For each true word, a blister! and each false
Be as cauterizing to the root o’ the tongue,
Consuming it with speaking!

First Senator

Worthy Timon —

Timon

Of none but such as you, and you of Timon.

First Senator

The senators of Athens greet thee, Timon.

Timon

I thank them; and would send them back the plague,
Could I but catch it for them.

First Senator

O, forget
What we are sorry for ourselves in thee.
The senators with one consent of love
Entreat thee back to Athens; who have thought
On special dignities, which vacant lie
For thy best use and wearing.

Second Senator

They confess
Toward thee forgetfulness too general, gross:
Which now the public body, which doth seldom
Play the recanter, feeling in itself
A lack of Timon’s aid, hath sense withal
Of its own fail, restraining aid to Timon;
And send forth us, to make their sorrow’d render,
Together with a recompense more fruitful
Than their offence can weigh down by the dram;
Ay, even such heaps and sums of love and wealth
As shall to thee blot out what wrongs were theirs
And write in thee the figures of their love,
Ever to read them thine.

Timon

You witch me in it;
Surprise me to the very brink of tears:
Lend me a fool’s heart and a woman’s eyes,
And I’ll beweep these comforts, worthy senators.

First Senator

Therefore, so please thee to return with us
And of our Athens, thine and ours, to take
The captainship, thou shalt be met with thanks,
Allow’d with absolute power and thy good name
Live with authority: so soon we shall drive back
Of Alcibiades the approaches wild,
Who, like a boar too savage, doth root up
His country’s peace.

Second Senator

And shakes his threatening sword
Against the walls of Athens.

First Senator

Therefore, Timon —

Timon

Well, sir, I will; therefore, I will, sir; thus:
If Alcibiades kill my countrymen,
Let Alcibiades know this of Timon,
That Timon cares not. But if be sack fair Athens,
And take our goodly aged men by the beards,
Giving our holy virgins to the stain
Of contumelious, beastly, mad-brain’d war,
Then let him know, and tell him Timon speaks it,
In pity of our aged and our youth,
I cannot choose but tell him, that I care not,
And let him take’t at worst; for their knives care not,
While you have throats to answer: for myself,
There’s not a whittle in the unruly camp
But I do prize it at my love before
The reverend’st throat in Athens. So I leave you
To the protection of the prosperous gods,
As thieves to keepers.

Flavius

Stay not, all’s in vain.

Timon

Why, I was writing of my epitaph;
It will be seen to-morrow: my long sickness
Of health and living now begins to mend,
And nothing brings me all things. Go, live still;
Be Alcibiades your plague, you his,
And last so long enough!

First Senator

We speak in vain.

Timon

But yet I love my country, and am not
One that rejoices in the common wreck,
As common bruit doth put it.

First Senator

That’s well spoke.

Timon

Commend me to my loving countrymen —

First Senator

These words become your lips as they pass thorough them.

Second Senator

And enter in our ears like great triumphers
In their applauding gates.

Timon

Commend me to them,
And tell them that, to ease them of their griefs,
Their fears of hostile strokes, their aches, losses,
Their pangs of love, with other incident throes
That nature’s fragile vessel doth sustain
In life’s uncertain voyage, I will some kindness do them:
I’ll teach them to prevent wild Alcibiades’ wrath.

First Senator

I like this well; he will return again.

Timon

I have a tree, which grows here in my close,
That mine own use invites me to cut down,
And shortly must I fell it: tell my friends,
Tell Athens, in the sequence of degree
From high to low throughout, that whoso please
To stop affliction, let him take his haste,
Come hither, ere my tree hath felt the axe,
And hang himself. I pray you, do my greeting.

Flavius

Trouble him no further; thus you still shall find him.

Timon

Come not to me again: but say to Athens,
Timon hath made his everlasting mansion
Upon the beached verge of the salt flood;
Who once a day with his embossed froth
The turbulent surge shall cover: thither come,
And let my grave-stone be your oracle.
Lips, let sour words go by and language end:
What is amiss plague and infection mend!
Graves only be men’s works and death their gain!
Sun, hide thy beams! Timon hath done his reign.

Retires to his cave

First Senator

His discontents are unremoveably
Coupled to nature.

Second Senator

Our hope in him is dead: let us return,
And strain what other means is left unto us
In our dear peril.

First Senator

  It requires swift foot.

Exeunt

Scene II. Before the walls of Athens.

Enter two Senators and a Messenger

First Senator

Thou hast painfully discover’d: are his files
As full as thy report?

Messenger

have spoke the least:
Besides, his expedition promises
Present approach.

Second Senator

We stand much hazard, if they bring not Timon.

Messenger

I met a courier, one mine ancient friend;
Whom, though in general part we were opposed,
Yet our old love made a particular force,
And made us speak like friends: this man was riding
From Alcibiades to Timon’s cave,
With letters of entreaty, which imported
His fellowship i’ the cause against your city,
In part for his sake moved.

First Senator

Here come our brothers.

Enter the Senators from Timon

Third Senator

No talk of Timon, nothing of him expect.
The enemies’ drum is heard, and fearful scouring
Doth choke the air with dust: in, and prepare:
Ours is the fall, I fear; our foes the snare.

Exeunt

Scene III. The woods. Timon’s cave, and a rude tomb seen.

Enter a Soldier, seeking Timon

Soldier

By all description this should be the place.
Who’s here? speak, ho! No answer! What is this?
Timon is dead, who hath outstretch’d his span:
Some beast rear’d this; there does not live a man.
Dead, sure; and this his grave. What’s on this tomb
I cannot read; the character I’ll take with wax:
Our captain hath in every figure skill,
An aged interpreter, though young in days:
Before proud Athens he’s set down by this,
Whose fall the mark of his ambition is.

Exit

Scene IV. Before the walls of Athens.

Trumpets sound. Enter Alcibiades with his powers

Alcibiades

Sound to this coward and lascivious town
Our terrible approach.

A parley sounded

Enter Senators on the walls

Till now you have gone on and fill’d the time
With all licentious measure, making your wills
The scope of justice; till now myself and such
As slept within the shadow of your power
Hav e wander’d with our traversed arms and breathed
Our sufferance vainly: now the time is flush,
When crouching marrow in the bearer strong
Cries of itself ‘No more:’ now breathless wrong
Shall sit and pant in your great chairs of ease,
And pursy insolence shall break his wind
With fear and horrid flight.

First Senator

Noble and young,
When thy first griefs were but a mere conceit,
Ere thou hadst power or we had cause of fear,
We sent to thee, to give thy rages balm,
To wipe out our ingratitude with loves
Above their quantity.

Second Senator

So did we woo
Transformed Timon to our city’s love
By humble message and by promised means:
We were not all unkind, nor all deserve
The common stroke of war.

First Senator

These walls of ours
Were not erected by their hands from whom
You have received your griefs; nor are they such
That these great towers, trophies and schools should fall
For private faults in them.

Second Senator

Nor are they living
Who were the motives that you first went out;
Shame that they wanted cunning, in excess
Hath broke their hearts. March, noble lord,
Into our city with thy banners spread:
By decimation, and a tithed death —
If thy revenges hunger for that food
Which nature loathes — take thou the destined tenth,
And by the hazard of the spotted die
Let die the spotted.

First Senator

All have not offended;
For those that were, it is not square to take
On those that are, revenges: crimes, like lands,
Are not inherited. Then, dear countryman,
Bring in thy ranks, but leave without thy rage:
Spare thy Athenian cradle and those kin
Which in the bluster of thy wrath must fall
With those that have offended: like a shepherd,
Approach the fold and cull the infected forth,
But kill not all together.

Second Senator

What thou wilt,
Thou rather shalt enforce it with thy smile
Than hew to’t with thy sword.

First Senator

Set but thy foot
Against our rampired gates, and they shall ope;
So thou wilt send thy gentle heart before,
To say thou’lt enter friendly.

Second Senator

Throw thy glove,
Or any token of thine honour else,
That thou wilt use the wars as thy redress
And not as our confusion, all thy powers
Shall make their harbour in our town, till we
Have seal’d thy full desire.

Alcibiades

Then there’s my glove;
Descend, and open your uncharged ports:
Those enemies of Timon’s and mine own
Whom you yourselves shall set out for reproof
Fall and no more: and, to atone your fears
With my more noble meaning, not a man
Shall pass his quarter, or offend the stream
Of regular justice in your city’s bounds,
But shall be render’d to your public laws
At heaviest answer.

Both

’Tis most nobly spoken.

Alcibiades

Descend, and keep your words.

The Senators descend, and open the gates

Enter Soldier

Soldier

My noble general, Timon is dead;
Entomb’d upon the very hem o’ the sea;
And on his grave-stone this insculpture, which
With wax I brought away, whose soft impression
Interprets for my poor ignorance.

Alcibiades

[Reads the epitaph] ‘Here lies a wretched corse, of wretched soul bereft:
Seek not my name: a plague consume you wicked caitiffs left!
Here lie I, Timon; who, alive, all living men did hate:
Pass by and curse thy fill, but pass and stay not here thy gait.’
These well express in thee thy latter spirits:
Though thou abhorr’dst in us our human griefs,
Scorn’dst our brain’s flow and those our droplets which
From niggard nature fall, yet rich conceit
Taught thee to make vast Neptune weep for aye
On thy low grave, on faults forgiven. Dead
Is noble Timon: of whose memory
Hereafter more. Bring me into your city,
And I will use the olive with my sword,
Make war breed peace, make peace stint war, make each
Prescribe to other as each other’s leech.
Let our drums strike.

Exeunt

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Last updated Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at 22:30