Timon of Athens, ACT I
SCENE I. Athens. A hall in Timon’s house.
Enter Poet, Painter, Jeweller, Merchant, and others, at several doors
Good day, sir.
I am glad you’re well.
I have not seen you long: how goes the world?
It wears, sir, as it grows.
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.
I know them both; th’ other’s a jeweller.
O, ’tis a worthy lord.
Nay, that’s most fix’d.
A most incomparable man, breathed, as it were,
To an untirable and continuate goodness:
Jeweller: I have a jewel here–
O, pray, let’s see’t: for the Lord Timon, sir?
Jeweller: If he will touch the estimate: but, for that–
[Reciting to himself] ‘When we for recompense have
praised the vile,
It stains the glory in that happy verse
Which aptly sings the good.’
‘Tis a good form.
Looking at the jewel
And rich: here is a water, look ye.
You are rapt, sir, in some work, some dedication
To the great lord.
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?
A picture, sir. When comes your book forth?
Upon the heels of my presentment, sir.
Let’s see your piece.
‘Tis a good piece.
So ’tis: this comes off well and excellent.
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.
It is a pretty mocking of the life.
Here is a touch; is’t good?
I will say of it,
It tutors nature: artificial strife
Lives in these touches, livelier than life.
Enter certain Senators, and pass over
How this lord is follow’d!
The senators of Athens: happy man!
You see this confluence, this great flood
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.
How shall I understand you?
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.
I saw them speak together.
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.
‘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.
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.
Ay, marry, what of these?
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.
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
Imprison’d is he, say you?
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.
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.
Your lordship ever binds him.
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.
All happiness to your honour!
Enter an old Athenian
Lord Timon, hear me speak.
Freely, good father.
Thou hast a servant named Lucilius.
I have so: what of him?
Most noble Timon, call the man before thee.
Attends he here, or no? Lucilius!
Here, at your lordship’s service.
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.
Well; what further?
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.
The man is honest.
Therefore he will be, Timon:
His honesty rewards him in itself;
It must not bear my daughter.
Does she love him?
She is young and apt:
Our own precedent passions do instruct us
What levity’s in youth.
[To LUCILIUS] Love you the maid?
Ay, my good lord, and she accepts of it.
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.
How shall she be endow’d,
if she be mated with an equal husband?
Three talents on the present; in future, all.
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.
Most noble lord,
Pawn me to this your honour, she is his.
My hand to thee; mine honour on my promise.
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
Vouchsafe my labour, and long live your lordship!
I thank you; you shall hear from me anon:
Go not away. What have you there, my friend?
A piece of painting, which I do beseech
Your lordship to accept.
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.
The gods preserve ye!
Well fare you, gentleman: give me your hand;
We must needs dine together. Sir, your jewel
Hath suffer’d under praise.
What, my lord! dispraise?
A more satiety of commendations.
If I should pay you for’t as ’tis extoll’d,
It would unclew me quite.
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.
No, my good lord; he speaks the common tongue,
Which all men speak with him.
Look, who comes here: will you be chid?
Jeweller: We’ll bear, with your lordship.
He’ll spare none.
Good morrow to thee, gentle Apemantus!
Till I be gentle, stay thou for thy good morrow;
When thou art Timon’s dog, and these knaves honest.
Why dost thou call them knaves? thou know’st them not.
Are they not Athenians?
Then I repent not.
Jeweller: You know me, Apemantus?
Thou know’st I do: I call’d thee by thy name.
Thou art proud, Apemantus.
Of nothing so much as that I am not like Timon.
Whither art going?
To knock out an honest Athenian’s brains.
That’s a deed thou’lt die for.
Right, if doing nothing be death by the law.
How likest thou this picture, Apemantus?
The best, for the innocence.
Wrought he not well that painted it?
He wrought better that made the painter; and yet
he’s but a filthy piece of work.
You’re a dog.
Thy mother’s of my generation: what’s she, if I be a dog?
Wilt dine with me, Apemantus?
No; I eat not lords.
An thou shouldst, thou ‘ldst anger ladies.
O, they eat lords; so they come by great bellies.
That’s a lascivious apprehension.
So thou apprehendest it: take it for thy labour.
How dost thou like this jewel, Apemantus?
Not so well as plain-dealing, which will not cost a
man a doit.
What dost thou think ’tis worth?
Not worth my thinking. How now, poet!
How now, philosopher!
Art not one?
Then I lie not.
Art not a poet?
Then thou liest: look in thy last work, where thou
hast feigned him a worthy fellow.
That’s not feigned; he is so.
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!
What wouldst do then, Apemantus?
E’en as Apemantus does now; hate a lord with my heart.
That I had no angry wit to be a lord.
Art not thou a merchant?
Traffic confound thee, if the gods will not!
If traffic do it, the gods do it.
Traffic’s thy god; and thy god confound thee!
Trumpet sounds. Enter a Messenger
What trumpet’s that?
‘Tis Alcibiades, and some twenty horse,
All of companionship.
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!
So, so, there!
Aches contract and starve your supple joints!
That there should be small love ‘mongst these
And all this courtesy! The strain of man’s bred out
Into baboon and monkey.
Sir, you have saved my longing, and I feed
Most hungerly on your sight.
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
What time o’ day is’t, Apemantus?
Time to be honest.
That time serves still.
The more accursed thou, that still omitt’st it.
Thou art going to Lord Timon’s feast?
Ay, to see meat fill knaves and wine heat fools.
Fare thee well, fare thee well.
Thou art a fool to bid me farewell twice.
Shouldst have kept one to thyself, for I mean to
give thee none.
No, I will do nothing at thy bidding: make thy
requests to thy friend.
Away, unpeaceable dog, or I’ll spurn thee hence!
I will fly, like a dog, the heels o’ the ass.
He’s opposite to humanity. Come, shall we in,
And taste Lord Timon’s bounty? he outgoes
The very heart of kindness.
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.
The noblest mind he carries
That ever govern’d man.
Long may he live in fortunes! Shall we in?
I’ll keep you company.
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
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.
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.
A noble spirit!
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.
My lord, we always have confess’d it.
Ho, ho, confess’d it! hang’d it, have you not?
O, Apemantus, you are welcome.
You shall not make me welcome:
I come to have thee thrust me out of doors.
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.
Let me stay at thine apperil, Timon: I come to
observe; I give thee warning on’t.
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.
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.
My lord, in heart; and let the health go round.
Let it flow this way, my good lord.
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.
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!
Captain Alcibiades, your heart’s in the field now.
My heart is ever at your service, my lord.
You had rather be at a breakfast of enemies than a
dinner of friends.
So the were bleeding-new, my lord, there’s no meat
like ’em: I could wish my best friend at such a feast.
Would all those fatterers were thine enemies then,
that then thou mightst kill ’em and bid me to ’em!
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.
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.
Thou weepest to make them drink, Timon.
Joy had the like conception in our eyes
And at that instant like a babe sprung up.
Ho, ho! I laugh to think that babe a bastard.
I promise you, my lord, you moved me much.
What means that trump?
Enter a Servant
Please you, my lord, there are certain
ladies most desirous of admittance.
Ladies! what are their wills?
There comes with them a forerunner, my lord, which
bears that office, to signify their pleasures.
I pray, let them be admitted.
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.
They’re welcome all; let ’em have kind admittance:
Music, make their welcome!
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
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
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.
My lord, you take us even at the best.
‘Faith, for the worst is filthy; and would not hold
taking, I doubt me.
Ladies, there is an idle banquet attends you:
Please you to dispose yourselves.
Most thankfully, my lord.
Exeunt Cupid and Ladies
The little casket bring me hither.
Yes, my lord. More jewels yet!
There is no crossing him in ‘s humour;
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.
Where be our men?
Here, my lord, in readiness.
Re-enter FLAVIUS, with the casket
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.
I am so far already in your gifts,–
So are we all.
Enter a Servant
My lord, there are certain nobles of the senate
Newly alighted, and come to visit you.
They are fairly welcome.
I beseech your honour,
Vouchsafe me a word; it does concern you near.
Near! why then, another time I’ll hear thee:
I prithee, let’s be provided to show them
[Aside] I scarce know how.
Enter a 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.
I shall accept them fairly; let the presents
Be worthily entertain’d.
Enter a third Servant
How now! what news?
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.
I’ll hunt with him; and let them be received,
Not without fair reward.
[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.
You do yourselves
Much wrong, you bate too much of your own merits:
Here, my lord, a trifle of our love.
With more than common thanks I will receive it.
O, he’s the very soul of bounty!
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.
O, I beseech you, pardon me, my lord, in that.
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.
O, none so welcome.
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.
Ay, defiled land, my lord.
We are so virtuously bound–
Am I to you.
So infinitely endear’d–
All to you. Lights, more lights!
The best of happiness,
Honour and fortunes, keep with you, Lord Timon!
Ready for his friends.
Exeunt all but APEMANTUS and TIMON
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.
Now, Apemantus, if thou wert not sullen, I would be
good to thee.
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
Nay, an you begin to rail on society once, I am
sworn not to give regard to you. Farewell; and come
with better music.
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!