Timon of Athens is a rich man of Athens with absolutely no sense of scale, either in prosperity or in misery.
He believes that one can buy friendship, and showers rich gifts on anybody who attends his feasts – and anybody can simply walk in off the street to join them. His chief fault is his generosity and his belief in the goodness of man; he refuses to look at his accounts because he trusts that his steward, Flavius, is honest. He refuses to see debts to him repaid, and is convinced that anyone he has been kind to will naturally return the favor. An open and honest man, he has no understanding of hypocrisy and therefore no defense against flattery, which he takes at face value because he himself means everything he says. The discovery that he has managed to spend his entire fortune startles him, but it is not until nobody will help that he becomes disturbed. Harassed by creditors, he gives way to anger soon becoming as extravagant in his hatred for those who have disappointed him as he was in his gifts to them. He thereafter refuses to see any good in humanity and spends most of his time cursing it. He goes to live in a cave, and when he accidentally digs up a hidden pile of gold, he gives it to soldiers planning to sack Athens, to prostitutes and thieves, enjoining them to continue in their acts and grow worse at them until the entire world is destroyed. Finally dying, and as happy to do so as he is capable of being happy, he writes his own epitaph, a final insult to the whole of humanity – a curious conflation of the two parts of his personality, both requesting anonymity and making sure passers-by know his name.