Open Source Shakespeare

The Tragedy of Timon of Athens

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Act IV, Scene 1

Without the walls of Athens.


[Enter TIMON]

  • Timon. Let me look back upon thee. O thou wall, 1565
    That girdlest in those wolves, dive in the earth,
    And fence not Athens! Matrons, turn incontinent!
    Obedience fail in children! slaves and fools,
    Pluck the grave wrinkled senate from the bench,
    And minister in their steads! to general filths 1570
    Convert o' the instant, green virginity,
    Do 't in your parents' eyes! bankrupts, hold fast;
    Rather than render back, out with your knives,
    And cut your trusters' throats! bound servants, steal!
    Large-handed robbers your grave masters are, 1575
    And pill by law. Maid, to thy master's bed;
    Thy mistress is o' the brothel! Son of sixteen,
    pluck the lined crutch from thy old limping sire,
    With it beat out his brains! Piety, and fear,
    Religion to the gods, peace, justice, truth, 1580
    Domestic awe, night-rest, and neighbourhood,
    Instruction, manners, mysteries, and trades,
    Degrees, observances, customs, and laws,
    Decline to your confounding contraries,
    And let confusion live! Plagues, incident to men, 1585
    Your potent and infectious fevers heap
    On Athens, ripe for stroke! Thou cold sciatica,
    Cripple our senators, that their limbs may halt
    As lamely as their manners. Lust and liberty
    Creep in the minds and marrows of our youth, 1590
    That 'gainst the stream of virtue they may strive,
    And drown themselves in riot! Itches, blains,
    Sow all the Athenian bosoms; and their crop
    Be general leprosy! Breath infect breath,
    at their society, as their friendship, may 1595
    merely poison! Nothing I'll bear from thee,
    But nakedness, thou detestable town!
    Take thou that too, with multiplying bans!
    Timon will to the woods; where he shall find
    The unkindest beast more kinder than mankind. 1600
    The gods confound—hear me, you good gods all—
    The Athenians both within and out that wall!
    And grant, as Timon grows, his hate may grow
    To the whole race of mankind, high and low! Amen.