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Timon of Athens


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A drama by Shakespeare, probably in collaboration with Middleton, written probably about 1607 and apparently left unfinished; it was printed in the First Folio (1623). The material for the play is in Plutarch's Life of Antony, Painter's Palace of Pleasure, Lucian's Timon, or the Misanthrope, and possibly an anonymous play Timon among the Dyce MSS.

Timon, a rich and noble Athenian of good and gracious nature, having ruined himself by his prodigal liberality to friends, flatterers, and parasites, turns to the richest of his friends for assistance in his difficulties, and is denied it and deserted by all who had previously frequented him. He surprises these by inviting them once more to a banquet; but when the covers are removed from the dishes (Timon crying, ‘Uncover, dogs, and lap’, iii. vi.), they are found to contain warm water, which with imprecations he throws in his guests' faces. Cursing the city, he betakes himself to a cave, where he lives solitary and misanthropical. While digging for roots he finds a hoard of gold, which has now no value for him. His embittered spirit is manifested in his talk with the exiled Alcibiades, the churlish philosopher Apemantus, the thieves and flatterers attracted by the gold, and his faithful steward Flavius. When the senators of Athens, hard pressed by the attack of Alcibiades, come to entreat him to return to the city and help them, he offers them his fig‐tree, on which to hang themselves as a refuge from affliction. Soon his tomb is found by the sea‐shore, with an epitaph expressing his hatred of mankind.

Subjects: Shakespeare Studies and Criticism.


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Authors

William Shakespeare (1564—1616) playwright and poet


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