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The Tragedy of Timon of Athens

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Act III, Scene 5

The same. The senate-house. The Senate sitting.

  • First Senator. My lord, you have my voice to it; the fault's
    Bloody; 'tis necessary he should die:
    Nothing emboldens sin so much as mercy.

[Enter ALCIBIADES, with Attendants]

  • Alcibiades. Honour, health, and compassion to the senate!
  • Alcibiades. I am an humble suitor to your virtues;
    For pity is the virtue of the law, 1315
    And none but tyrants use it cruelly.
    It pleases time and fortune to lie heavy
    Upon a friend of mine, who, in hot blood,
    Hath stepp'd into the law, which is past depth
    To those that, without heed, do plunge into 't. 1320
    He is a man, setting his fate aside,
    Of comely virtues:
    Nor did he soil the fact with cowardice—
    An honour in him which buys out his fault—
    But with a noble fury and fair spirit, 1325
    Seeing his reputation touch'd to death,
    He did oppose his foe:
    And with such sober and unnoted passion
    He did behave his anger, ere 'twas spent,
    As if he had but proved an argument. 1330
  • First Senator. You undergo too strict a paradox,
    Striving to make an ugly deed look fair:
    Your words have took such pains as if they labour'd
    To bring manslaughter into form and set quarrelling
    Upon the head of valour; which indeed 1335
    Is valour misbegot and came into the world
    When sects and factions were newly born:
    He's truly valiant that can wisely suffer
    The worst that man can breathe, and make his wrongs
    His outsides, to wear them like his raiment, 1340
    And ne'er prefer his injuries to his heart,
    To bring it into danger.
    If wrongs be evils and enforce us kill,
    What folly 'tis to hazard life for ill! 1345
  • First Senator. You cannot make gross sins look clear:
    To revenge is no valour, but to bear.
  • Alcibiades. My lords, then, under favour, pardon me,
    If I speak like a captain. 1350
    Why do fond men expose themselves to battle,
    And not endure all threats? sleep upon't,
    And let the foes quietly cut their throats,
    Without repugnancy? If there be
    Such valour in the bearing, what make we 1355
    Abroad? why then, women are more valiant
    That stay at home, if bearing carry it,
    And the ass more captain than the lion, the felon
    Loaden with irons wiser than the judge,
    If wisdom be in suffering. O my lords, 1360
    As you are great, be pitifully good:
    Who cannot condemn rashness in cold blood?
    To kill, I grant, is sin's extremest gust;
    But, in defence, by mercy, 'tis most just.
    To be in anger is impiety; 1365
    But who is man that is not angry?
    Weigh but the crime with this.
  • Alcibiades. In vain! his service done
    At Lacedaemon and Byzantium 1370
    Were a sufficient briber for his life.
  • Alcibiades. I say, my lords, he has done fair service,
    And slain in fight many of your enemies:
    How full of valour did he bear himself 1375
    In the last conflict, and made plenteous wounds!
  • Second Senator. He has made too much plenty with 'em;
    He's a sworn rioter: he has a sin that often
    Drowns him, and takes his valour prisoner:
    If there were no foes, that were enough 1380
    To overcome him: in that beastly fury
    He has been known to commit outrages,
    And cherish factions: 'tis inferr'd to us,
    His days are foul and his drink dangerous.
  • Alcibiades. Hard fate! he might have died in war.
    My lords, if not for any parts in him—
    Though his right arm might purchase his own time
    And be in debt to none—yet, more to move you,
    Take my deserts to his, and join 'em both: 1390
    And, for I know your reverend ages love
    Security, I'll pawn my victories, all
    My honours to you, upon his good returns.
    If by this crime he owes the law his life,
    Why, let the war receive 't in valiant gore 1395
    For law is strict, and war is nothing more.
  • First Senator. We are for law: he dies; urge it no more,
    On height of our displeasure: friend or brother,
    He forfeits his own blood that spills another.
  • Alcibiades. Must it be so? it must not be. My lords, 1400
    I do beseech you, know me.
  • Alcibiades. I cannot think but your age has forgot me; 1405
    It could not else be, I should prove so base,
    To sue, and be denied such common grace:
    My wounds ache at you.
  • First Senator. Do you dare our anger?
    'Tis in few words, but spacious in effect; 1410
    We banish thee for ever.
  • Alcibiades. Banish me!
    Banish your dotage; banish usury,
    That makes the senate ugly.
  • First Senator. If, after two days' shine, Athens contain thee, 1415
    Attend our weightier judgment. And, not to swell
    our spirit,
    He shall be executed presently.

[Exeunt Senators]

  • Alcibiades. Now the gods keep you old enough; that you may live 1420
    Only in bone, that none may look on you!
    I'm worse than mad: I have kept back their foes,
    While they have told their money and let out
    Their coin upon large interest, I myself
    Rich only in large hurts. All those for this? 1425
    Is this the balsam that the usuring senate
    Pours into captains' wounds? Banishment!
    It comes not ill; I hate not to be banish'd;
    It is a cause worthy my spleen and fury,
    That I may strike at Athens. I'll cheer up 1430
    My discontented troops, and lay for hearts.
    'Tis honour with most lands to be at odds;
    Soldiers should brook as little wrongs as gods.