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The Tragedy of Timon of Athens

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Act I, Scene 2

A banqueting-room in Timon’s house.


[Hautboys playing loud music. A great banquet] [p]served in; FLAVIUS and others attending; then enter [p]TIMON, ALCIBIADES, Lords, Senators, and VENTIDIUS. [p]Then comes, dropping, after all, APEMANTUS, [p]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: 340
    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, 345
    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. 350
  • 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, 355
    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: 365
    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 370
    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, 375
    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 380
    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. 385
    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; 390
    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.
  • Apemantus. Flow this way! A brave fellow! he keeps his tides 395
    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. 400
    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; 405
    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: 410
    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. 415
  • 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, 420
    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. 425
  • 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 430
    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 435
    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 440
    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 445
    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. 450
  • Third Lord. I promise you, my lord, you moved me much.

[Tucket, within]

  • Timon. What means that trump?
    [Enter a Servant] 455
    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 460
    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 465
    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: 470
    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, 475
    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. 480
    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? 485
    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. 490
    [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, 495
    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. 500
  • 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. 505

[Exeunt Cupid and Ladies]

  • Timon. The little casket bring me hither. 510
  • Flavius. 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. 515
    'Tis pity bounty had not eyes behind,
    That man might ne'er be wretched for his mind.


  • Servant. Here, my lord, in readiness. 520

[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 525
    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. 535
  • Timon. Near! why then, another time I'll hear thee:
    I prithee, let's be provided to show them
  • 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. 545
    [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 550
    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, 555
    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 560
    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! 565
    Happier is he that has no friend to feed
    Than such that do e'en enemies exceed.
    I bleed inwardly for my lord.


  • Timon. You do yourselves 570
    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.
  • Timon. And now I remember, my lord, you gave 575
    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: 580
    I weigh my friend's affection with mine own;
    I'll tell you true. I'll call to you.
  • Timon. I take all and your several visitations
    So kind to heart, 'tis not enough to give; 585
    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 590
    Lie in a pitch'd field.
  • Timon. And so
    Am I to you. 595
  • 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. 600

[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: 605
    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, 610
    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? 615
  • 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.


  • Apemantus. So: 620
    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!