Timon of Athens

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by William Shakespeare


TIMON, a noble Athenian LUCIUS LUCULLUS flattering Lords. SEMPRONIUS

VENTIDIUS, one of Timon's false Friends. APEMANTUS, a churlish Philosopher. ALCIBIADES, an Athenian Captain. FLAVIUS, Steward to Timon. FLAMINIUS LUCILIUS Servants to Timon. SERVILIUS


Servants of Ventidius, and of Varro and Isidore (two of Timon's Creditor's).

THREE STRANGERS. AN OLD ATHENIAN. A PAGE. A FOOL. Poet, Painter, Jeweller, and Merchant.

PHRYNIA Mistresses to Alcibiades. TIMANDRA

Lords, Senators, Officers, Soldiers, Servants, Thieves, and Attendants

CUPID and Amazons in the Masque.

Scene.--Athens, and the neighbouring Woods.

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 conjur'd 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; breath'd, 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. When we for recompense have prais'd the vile, It stains the glory in that happy verse Which aptly sings the good.

MERCHANT. [Looking at the jewel.] 'Tis a good form.

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'll say of it, It tutors nature: artificial strife Lives in these touches, livelier than life.

[Enter certain SENATORS, who pass over the stage.]

PAINTER. How this lord is followed!

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, shap'd 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 slipp'ry 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-fac'd 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 thron'd: 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.

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