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And wiped our eyes
Of drops that sacred pity hath engender'd.

      — As You Like It, Act II Scene 7


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The Tragedy of Timon of Athens

Act V

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Scene 1. The woods. Before Timon’s cave.

Scene 2. Before the walls of Athens.

Scene 3. The woods. Timon’s cave, and a rude tomb seen.

Scene 4. Before the walls of Athens.


Act V, Scene 1

The woods. Before Timon’s cave.

      next scene .

[Enter Poet and Painter; TIMON watching] [p]them from his cave]

  • Painter. As I took note of the place, it cannot be far where 2260
    he abides.
  • Poet. What's to be thought of him? does the rumour hold
    for true, that he's so full of gold?
  • Painter. Certain: Alcibiades reports it; Phrynia and
    Timandra had gold of him: he likewise enriched poor 2265
    straggling soldiers with great quantity: 'tis said
    he gave unto his steward a mighty sum.
  • Poet. Then this breaking of his has been but a try for his friends.
  • Painter. Nothing else: you shall see him a palm in Athens
    again, and flourish with the highest. Therefore 2270
    'tis not amiss we tender our loves to him, in this
    supposed distress of his: it will show honestly in
    us; and is very likely to load our purposes with
    what they travail for, if it be a just true report
    that goes of his having. 2275
  • Poet. What have you now to present unto him?
  • Painter. Nothing at this time but my visitation: only I will
    promise him an excellent piece.
  • Poet. I must serve him so too, tell him of an intent
    that's coming toward him. 2280
  • Painter. Good as the best. Promising is the very air o' the
    time: it opens the eyes of expectation:
    performance is ever the duller for his act; and,
    but in the plainer and simpler kind of people, the
    deed of saying is quite out of use. To promise is 2285
    most courtly and fashionable: performance is a kind
    of will or testament which argues a great sickness
    in his judgment that makes it.

[TIMON comes from his cave, behind]

  • Timon. [Aside] Excellent workman! thou canst not paint a 2290
    man so bad as is thyself.
  • Poet. I am thinking what I shall say I have provided for
    him: it must be a personating of himself; a satire
    against the softness of prosperity, with a discovery
    of the infinite flatteries that follow youth and opulency. 2295
  • Timon. [Aside] Must thou needs stand for a villain in
    thine own work? wilt thou whip thine own faults in
    other men? Do so, I have gold for thee.
  • Poet. Nay, let's seek him:
    Then do we sin against our own estate, 2300
    When we may profit meet, and come too late.
  • Painter. True;
    When the day serves, before black-corner'd night,
    Find what thou want'st by free and offer'd light. Come.
  • Timon. [Aside] I'll meet you at the turn. What a 2305
    god's gold,
    That he is worshipp'd in a baser temple
    Than where swine feed!
    'Tis thou that rigg'st the bark and plough'st the foam,
    Settlest admired reverence in a slave: 2310
    To thee be worship! and thy saints for aye
    Be crown'd with plagues that thee alone obey!
    Fit I meet them.

[Coming forward]

  • Poet. Hail, worthy Timon! 2315
  • Timon. Have I once lived to see two honest men?
  • Poet. Sir,
    Having often of your open bounty tasted,
    Hearing you were retired, your friends fall'n off, 2320
    Whose thankless natures—O abhorred spirits!—
    Not all the whips of heaven are large enough:
    What! to you,
    Whose star-like nobleness gave life and influence
    To their whole being! I am rapt and cannot cover 2325
    The monstrous bulk of this ingratitude
    With any size of words.
  • Timon. Let it go naked, men may see't the better:
    You that are honest, by being what you are,
    Make them best seen and known. 2330
  • Painter. He and myself
    Have travail'd in the great shower of your gifts,
    And sweetly felt it.
  • Timon. Ay, you are honest men.
  • Painter. We are hither come to offer you our service. 2335
  • Timon. Most honest men! Why, how shall I requite you?
    Can you eat roots, and drink cold water? no.
  • Both. What we can do, we'll do, to do you service.
  • Timon. Ye're honest men: ye've heard that I have gold;
    I am sure you have: speak truth; ye're honest men. 2340
  • Painter. So it is said, my noble lord; but therefore
    Came not my friend nor I.
  • Timon. Good honest men! Thou draw'st a counterfeit
    Best in all Athens: thou'rt, indeed, the best;
    Thou counterfeit'st most lively. 2345
  • Timon. E'en so, sir, as I say. And, for thy fiction,
    Why, thy verse swells with stuff so fine and smooth
    That thou art even natural in thine art.
    But, for all this, my honest-natured friends, 2350
    I must needs say you have a little fault:
    Marry, 'tis not monstrous in you, neither wish I
    You take much pains to mend.
  • Both. Beseech your honour
    To make it known to us. 2355
  • Timon. You'll take it ill.
  • Both. Most thankfully, my lord.
  • Timon. Will you, indeed?
  • Both. Doubt it not, worthy lord.
  • Timon. There's never a one of you but trusts a knave, 2360
    That mightily deceives you.
  • Both. Do we, my lord?
  • Timon. Ay, and you hear him cog, see him dissemble,
    Know his gross patchery, love him, feed him,
    Keep in your bosom: yet remain assured 2365
    That he's a made-up villain.
  • Painter. I know none such, my lord.
  • Timon. Look you, I love you well; I'll give you gold,
    Rid me these villains from your companies: 2370
    Hang them or stab them, drown them in a draught,
    Confound them by some course, and come to me,
    I'll give you gold enough.
  • Both. Name them, my lord, let's know them.
  • Timon. You that way and you this, but two in company; 2375
    Each man apart, all single and alone,
    Yet an arch-villain keeps him company.
    If where thou art two villains shall not be,
    Come not near him. If thou wouldst not reside
    But where one villain is, then him abandon. 2380
    Hence, pack! there's gold; you came for gold, ye slaves:
    [To Painter]
    You have work'd for me; there's payment for you: hence!
    [To Poet]
    You are an alchemist; make gold of that. 2385
    Out, rascal dogs!

[Beats them out, and then retires to his cave]

[Enter FLAVIUS and two Senators]

  • Flavius. It is in vain that you would speak with Timon;
    For he is set so only to himself 2390
    That nothing but himself which looks like man
    Is friendly with him.
  • First Senator. Bring us to his cave:
    It is our part and promise to the Athenians
    To speak with Timon. 2395
  • Second Senator. At all times alike
    Men are not still the same: 'twas time and griefs
    That framed him thus: time, with his fairer hand,
    Offering the fortunes of his former days,
    The former man may make him. Bring us to him, 2400
    And chance it as it may.
  • Flavius. Here is his cave.
    Peace and content be here! Lord Timon! Timon!
    Look out, and speak to friends: the Athenians,
    By two of their most reverend senate, greet thee: 2405
    Speak to them, noble Timon.

[TIMON comes from his cave]

  • Timon. Thou sun, that comfort'st, burn! Speak, and
    be hang'd:
    For each true word, a blister! and each false 2410
    Be as cauterizing to the root o' the tongue,
    Consuming it with speaking!
  • Timon. Of none but such as you, and you of Timon.
  • Timon. I thank them; and would send them back the plague,
    Could I but catch it for them.
  • First Senator. O, forget
    What we are sorry for ourselves in thee.
    The senators with one consent of love 2420
    Entreat thee back to Athens; who have thought
    On special dignities, which vacant lie
    For thy best use and wearing.
  • Second Senator. They confess
    Toward thee forgetfulness too general, gross: 2425
    Which now the public body, which doth seldom
    Play the recanter, feeling in itself
    A lack of Timon's aid, hath sense withal
    Of its own fail, restraining aid to Timon;
    And send forth us, to make their sorrow'd render, 2430
    Together with a recompense more fruitful
    Than their offence can weigh down by the dram;
    Ay, even such heaps and sums of love and wealth
    As shall to thee blot out what wrongs were theirs
    And write in thee the figures of their love, 2435
    Ever to read them thine.
  • Timon. You witch me in it;
    Surprise me to the very brink of tears:
    Lend me a fool's heart and a woman's eyes,
    And I'll beweep these comforts, worthy senators. 2440
  • First Senator. Therefore, so please thee to return with us
    And of our Athens, thine and ours, to take
    The captainship, thou shalt be met with thanks,
    Allow'd with absolute power and thy good name
    Live with authority: so soon we shall drive back 2445
    Of Alcibiades the approaches wild,
    Who, like a boar too savage, doth root up
    His country's peace.
  • Second Senator. And shakes his threatening sword
    Against the walls of Athens. 2450
  • Timon. Well, sir, I will; therefore, I will, sir; thus:
    If Alcibiades kill my countrymen,
    Let Alcibiades know this of Timon,
    That Timon cares not. But if be sack fair Athens, 2455
    And take our goodly aged men by the beards,
    Giving our holy virgins to the stain
    Of contumelious, beastly, mad-brain'd war,
    Then let him know, and tell him Timon speaks it,
    In pity of our aged and our youth, 2460
    I cannot choose but tell him, that I care not,
    And let him take't at worst; for their knives care not,
    While you have throats to answer: for myself,
    There's not a whittle in the unruly camp
    But I do prize it at my love before 2465
    The reverend'st throat in Athens. So I leave you
    To the protection of the prosperous gods,
    As thieves to keepers.
  • Timon. Why, I was writing of my epitaph; 2470
    it will be seen to-morrow: my long sickness
    Of health and living now begins to mend,
    And nothing brings me all things. Go, live still;
    Be Alcibiades your plague, you his,
    And last so long enough! 2475
  • Timon. But yet I love my country, and am not
    One that rejoices in the common wreck,
    As common bruit doth put it.
  • Timon. Commend me to my loving countrymen,—
  • First Senator. These words become your lips as they pass
    thorough them.
  • Second Senator. And enter in our ears like great triumphers
    In their applauding gates. 2485
  • Timon. Commend me to them,
    And tell them that, to ease them of their griefs,
    Their fears of hostile strokes, their aches, losses,
    Their pangs of love, with other incident throes
    That nature's fragile vessel doth sustain 2490
    In life's uncertain voyage, I will some kindness do them:
    I'll teach them to prevent wild Alcibiades' wrath.
  • Timon. I have a tree, which grows here in my close,
    That mine own use invites me to cut down, 2495
    And shortly must I fell it: tell my friends,
    Tell Athens, in the sequence of degree
    From high to low throughout, that whoso please
    To stop affliction, let him take his haste,
    Come hither, ere my tree hath felt the axe, 2500
    And hang himself. I pray you, do my greeting.
  • Flavius. Trouble him no further; thus you still shall find him.
  • Timon. Come not to me again: but say to Athens,
    Timon hath made his everlasting mansion
    Upon the beached verge of the salt flood; 2505
    Who once a day with his embossed froth
    The turbulent surge shall cover: thither come,
    And let my grave-stone be your oracle.
    Lips, let sour words go by and language end:
    What is amiss plague and infection mend! 2510
    Graves only be men's works and death their gain!
    Sun, hide thy beams! Timon hath done his reign.

[Retires to his cave]

  • First Senator. His discontents are unremoveably
    Coupled to nature. 2515
  • Second Senator. Our hope in him is dead: let us return,
    And strain what other means is left unto us
    In our dear peril.


. previous scene      

Act V, Scene 2

Before the walls of Athens.

      next scene .

[Enter two Senators and a Messenger]

  • First Senator. Thou hast painfully discover'd: are his files
    As full as thy report?
  • Messenger. have spoke the least:
    Besides, his expedition promises 2525
    Present approach.
  • Messenger. I met a courier, one mine ancient friend;
    Whom, though in general part we were opposed,
    Yet our old love made a particular force, 2530
    And made us speak like friends: this man was riding
    From Alcibiades to Timon's cave,
    With letters of entreaty, which imported
    His fellowship i' the cause against your city,
    In part for his sake moved. 2535

[Enter the Senators from TIMON]

  • Third Senator. No talk of Timon, nothing of him expect.
    The enemies' drum is heard, and fearful scouring
    Doth choke the air with dust: in, and prepare: 2540
    Ours is the fall, I fear; our foes the snare.


. previous scene      

Act V, Scene 3

The woods. Timon’s cave, and a rude tomb seen.

      next scene .

[Enter a Soldier, seeking TIMON]

  • Soldier. By all description this should be the place.
    Who's here? speak, ho! No answer! What is this? 2545
    Timon is dead, who hath outstretch'd his span:
    Some beast rear'd this; there does not live a man.
    Dead, sure; and this his grave. What's on this tomb
    I cannot read; the character I'll take with wax:
    Our captain hath in every figure skill, 2550
    An aged interpreter, though young in days:
    Before proud Athens he's set down by this,
    Whose fall the mark of his ambition is.


. previous scene      

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.