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The Tragedy of Timon of Athens

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Act V, Scene 4

Before the walls of Athens.


[Trumpets sound. Enter ALCIBIADES with his powers]

  • Alcibiades. Sound to this coward and lascivious town
    Our terrible approach.
    [A parley sounded]
    [Enter Senators on the walls]
    Till now you have gone on and fill'd the time 2560
    With all licentious measure, making your wills
    The scope of justice; till now myself and such
    As slept within the shadow of your power
    Have wander'd with our traversed arms and breathed
    Our sufferance vainly: now the time is flush, 2565
    When crouching marrow in the bearer strong
    Cries of itself 'No more:' now breathless wrong
    Shall sit and pant in your great chairs of ease,
    And pursy insolence shall break his wind
    With fear and horrid flight. 2570
  • First Senator. Noble and young,
    When thy first griefs were but a mere conceit,
    Ere thou hadst power or we had cause of fear,
    We sent to thee, to give thy rages balm,
    To wipe out our ingratitude with loves 2575
    Above their quantity.
  • Second Senator. So did we woo
    Transformed Timon to our city's love
    By humble message and by promised means:
    We were not all unkind, nor all deserve 2580
    The common stroke of war.
  • First Senator. These walls of ours
    Were not erected by their hands from whom
    You have received your griefs; nor are they such
    That these great towers, trophies and schools 2585
    should fall
    For private faults in them.
  • Second Senator. Nor are they living
    Who were the motives that you first went out;
    Shame that they wanted cunning, in excess 2590
    Hath broke their hearts. March, noble lord,
    Into our city with thy banners spread:
    By decimation, and a tithed death—
    If thy revenges hunger for that food
    Which nature loathes—take thou the destined tenth, 2595
    And by the hazard of the spotted die
    Let die the spotted.
  • First Senator. All have not offended;
    For those that were, it is not square to take
    On those that are, revenges: crimes, like lands, 2600
    Are not inherited. Then, dear countryman,
    Bring in thy ranks, but leave without thy rage:
    Spare thy Athenian cradle and those kin
    Which in the bluster of thy wrath must fall
    With those that have offended: like a shepherd, 2605
    Approach the fold and cull the infected forth,
    But kill not all together.
  • Second Senator. What thou wilt,
    Thou rather shalt enforce it with thy smile
    Than hew to't with thy sword. 2610
  • First Senator. Set but thy foot
    Against our rampired gates, and they shall ope;
    So thou wilt send thy gentle heart before,
    To say thou'lt enter friendly.
  • Second Senator. Throw thy glove, 2615
    Or any token of thine honour else,
    That thou wilt use the wars as thy redress
    And not as our confusion, all thy powers
    Shall make their harbour in our town, till we
    Have seal'd thy full desire. 2620
  • Alcibiades. Then there's my glove;
    Descend, and open your uncharged ports:
    Those enemies of Timon's and mine own
    Whom you yourselves shall set out for reproof
    Fall and no more: and, to atone your fears 2625
    With my more noble meaning, not a man
    Shall pass his quarter, or offend the stream
    Of regular justice in your city's bounds,
    But shall be render'd to your public laws
    At heaviest answer. 2630
  • Both. 'Tis most nobly spoken.

[The Senators descend, and open the gates]

[Enter Soldier]

  • Soldier. My noble general, Timon is dead; 2635
    Entomb'd upon the very hem o' the sea;
    And on his grave-stone this insculpture, which
    With wax I brought away, whose soft impression
    Interprets for my poor ignorance.
  • Alcibiades. [Reads the epitaph] 'Here lies a 2640
    wretched corse, of wretched soul bereft:
    Seek not my name: a plague consume you wicked
    caitiffs left!
    Here lie I, Timon; who, alive, all living men did hate:
    Pass by and curse thy fill, but pass and stay 2645
    not here thy gait.'
    These well express in thee thy latter spirits:
    Though thou abhorr'dst in us our human griefs,
    Scorn'dst our brain's flow and those our
    droplets which 2650
    From niggard nature fall, yet rich conceit
    Taught thee to make vast Neptune weep for aye
    On thy low grave, on faults forgiven. Dead
    Is noble Timon: of whose memory
    Hereafter more. Bring me into your city, 2655
    And I will use the olive with my sword,
    Make war breed peace, make peace stint war, make each
    Prescribe to other as each other's leech.
    Let our drums strike.