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Timon of Athens

Written: 1605-08 Text: First Folio 1623 (Tragedy), no quarto editions
Source: Plutarch’s Life of Antony; Lucian's dialogue Timon misanthropus
Characters: Timon, Flavius, Apemantus, Alcibiades, Senators, Friends, Poet, Painter, Jeweler, Merchant, Banditti
Time: 5th century BC

This play is a mystery in a few respects. Because there is no quarto edition and no extant evidence of its existence (including performances) until its inclusion in the First Folio, dating its writing is difficult. Some scholars guess it was written about the time of King Lear because Timon shares some of Lear's themes as well as unusual dialogue. Due to some of its unusual textual and plot problems, some scholars believe it is unfinished. Others believe it is a collaborative work, most notably with Thomas Middleton. One area of agreement among many scholars is that it is Shakespeare's least popular play. But even an unpopular play by someone as intelligent as Shakespeare is worth study.

Good day, sir

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Poet
Good day, sir.
Painter
I am glad you’re well.
Poet
I have not seen you long. How goes the world?
Painter
It wears, sir, as it grows.

I will say of it,
It tutors nature. Artificial strife
Lives in these touches livelier than life.

Poet
Ay,
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Act 1
Scene 1
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You see this confluence, this great flood of visitors

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Poet
You see this confluence, this great flood of visitors. Indicating his poem.
I have in this rough work shaped out a man
Whom this beneath world doth embrace and hug
With amplest entertainment. My free drift
Halts not particularly but moves itself
In a wide sea of wax. No leveled malice
Infects one comma in the course I hold,
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Act 1
Scene 1
Line 51

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You see this confluence, this great flood of visitors

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Poet
You see this confluence, this great flood of visitors.
(Indicating his poem.)
I have in this rough work shaped out a man
Whom this beneath world doth embrace and hug
With amplest entertainment. My free drift
Halts not particularly but moves itself
In a wide sea of wax. No leveled malice
Infects one comma in the course I hold,
… continue reading this quote

Act 1
Scene 1
Line 51

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Sir, your jewel Hath suffered under praise

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Timon
Sir, your jewel
Hath suffered under praise.
Jeweler
What, my lord? Dispraise?

Things of like value, differing in the owners,
Are prizèd by their masters. Believe ’t, dear lord,
You mend the jewel by the wearing it

Timon
A mere satiety of commendations.
If I should pay you for ’t as ’tis extolled,
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Act 1
Scene 1
Line 191

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Most honored Timon, It hath pleased the gods

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Ventidius
Most honored 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.

I gave it freely ever, and there’s none
Can truly say he gives if he receives.

Then, as in grateful virtue I am bound
To your free heart,
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Act 1
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O Apemantus, you are welcome

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Timon
O Apemantus, you are welcome.
Apemantus
No, you shall not make me welcome.
I come to have thee thrust me out of doors.
Timon
Fie, thou ’rt a churl. You’ve got a humor there
Does not become a man. ’Tis much to blame.—
They say, my lords, Ira furor brevis est,
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Act 1
Scene 2
Line 24

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Might we but have that happiness

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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 forever perfect.

We are born to do benefits. And what better
or properer can we call our own than the
riches of our friends?

Timon
O,
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Act 1
Scene 2
Line 86

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Hoy-day! What a sweep of vanity comes this way

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Hoy-day!
What a sweep of vanity comes this way.
They dance? They are madwomen.
Like madness is the glory of this life
As this pomp shows to a little oil and root.

Who lives that’s not depravèd or depraves?
Who dies that bears not one spurn to their graves
Of their friends’ gift?

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.
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Act 1
Scene 2
Line 135

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I’ll hunt with him; and let them be received

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Timon
I’ll hunt with him; and let them be received,
Not without fair reward. Servant exits.
Flavius, aside
What will this come to?
He commands us to provide, and give great gifts,
And all out of an empty coffer.

Happier is he that has no friend to feed
Than such that do e’en enemies exceed.
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Act 1
Scene 2
Line 200

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What a coil’s here

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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.
Methinks false hearts should never have sound legs.
Thus honest fools lay out their wealth on court’sies.

O, that men’s ears should be
To counsel deaf,
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Act 1
Scene 2
Line 247

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