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Timon of Athens Scenes

Scene 2

A banqueting-room in Timon’s house.

(Flavius; Lord Timon; States; First Lord; Second Lord; Third Lord; Alcibiades; Ventidius; Apemantus; Servants; Cupid; Ladies; Flaminius; Servilius)

At a feast of Timon’s, Ventidius, who was freed from jail thanks to Timon’s generosity, has inherited from his father and tries to pay Timon back. Timon refuses to hear of it. Apemantus too is present; Timon welcomes him but the cynic insists he only wants to be kicked out. Timon rolls his eyes and pays him no heed, letting him have a table by himself, from where he comments bitterly on all that follows. Timon gives a speech in praise of friendship. Some ladies come in to present a masque to Timon. Timon sends his steward Flavius to fetch a casket of jewels for him to distribute. Flavius is worried that Timon’s generosity is bankrupting him. He tries to tell his master this, but Timon doesn’t want to hear of anything concerning him. Presents from Lords Lucullus and Lucius and announced to Timon. Flavius complains to himself that Timon refuses to know what the state of his finances is, and thus doesn’t know that he has no money left. Timon bids farewell to his guests, giving them anything they’ve ever said they liked. Timon tells Apemantus that he’d be good to him as well if he were only a bit nicer, but Apemantus refuses to be bribed into silence; Timon refuses to listen to him when he begins to rail against the high life. (213 lines)

Hoboys playing loud music. A great banquet serv’d in, Flavius and others attending.

Then enter Lord Timon, the States, the Athenian Lords, Alcibiades, and Ventidius, which Timon redeem’d from prison.

Then comes, dropping after all, Apemantus, discontentedly, like himself.


Most honored Timon,

It hath pleas’d the gods to remember my father’s age,

And call him to long peace.

He is gone happy, and has left me rich.

Then, as in grateful virtue I am bound

To your free heart, I do return those talents,

Doubled with thanks and service, from whose help

I deriv’d liberty.


O, by no means,

Honest Ventidius. You mistake my love;

I gave it freely ever, and there’s none

Can truly say he gives if he receives.

If our betters play at that game, we must not dare

To imitate them; faults that are rich are fair.


A noble spirit!


Nay, my lords,

Ceremony was but devis’d at first

To set a gloss on faint deeds, hollow welcomes,

Recanting goodness, sorry ere ’tis shown;

But where there is true friendship, there needs none.

Pray sit, more welcome are ye to my fortunes

Than my fortunes to me.

They sit.

1. LORD.

My lord, we always have confess’d it.


Ho, ho, confess’d it? Hang’d it, have you not?


O, Apemantus, you are welcome.



You shall not make me welcome.

I come to have thee thrust me out of doors.


Fie, th’ art a churl. Ye have got a humor there

Does not become a man, ’tis much to blame.

They say, my lords, “Ira furor brevis est,”

But yond man is very angry. Go,

Let him have a table by himself,

For he does neither affect company,

Nor is he fit for’t indeed.


Let me stay at thine apperil, Timon.

I come to observe, I give thee warning on’t.


I take no heed of thee; th’ art an Athenian, therefore welcome. I myself would have no power; prithee let my meat make thee silent.


I scorn thy meat, ’twould choke me; for I should ne’er flatter thee. O you gods! What a number of men eats Timon, and he sees ’em not! It grieves me to see so many dip their meat in one man’s blood, and all the madness is, he cheers them up too.

I wonder men dare trust themselves with men.

Methinks they should invite them without knives:

Good for their meat, and safer for their lives.

There’s much example for’t: the fellow that sits next him, now parts bread with him, pledges the breath of him in a divided draught, is the readiest man to kill him; ’t ’as been prov’d. If I were a huge man, I should fear to drink at meals,

Lest they should spy my windpipe’s dangerous notes:

Great men should drink with harness on their throats.


My lord, in heart; and let the health go round.

2. LORD.

Let it flow this way, my good lord.


Flow this way? A brave fellow! He keeps his tides well. Those healths will make thee and thy state look ill, Timon.

Here’s that which is too weak to be a sinner,

Honest water, which ne’er left man i’ th’ mire.

This and my food are equals, there’s no odds;

Feasts are too proud to give thanks to the gods.

Apemantus’ grace.

Immortal gods, I crave no pelf,

I pray for no man but myself.

Grant I may never prove so fond,

To trust man on his oath or bond;

Or a harlot for her weeping,

Or a dog that seems a-sleeping,

Or a keeper with my freedom,

Or my friends, if I should need ’em.

Amen. So fall to’t:

Rich men sin, and I eat root.

Eats and drinks.

Much good dich thy good heart, Apemantus!


Captain Alcibiades, your heart’s in the field now.


My heart is ever at your service, my lord.


You had rather be at a breakfast of enemies than a dinner of friends.


So they were bleeding new, my lord, there’s no meat like ’em; I could wish my best friend at such a feast.


Would all those flatterers were thine enemies then, that then thou mightst kill ’em—and bid me to ’em!

1. 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.


O, no doubt, my good friends, but the gods themselves have provided that I shall have much help from you: how had you been my friends else? Why have you that charitable title from thousands, did not you chiefly belong to my heart? I have told more of you to myself than you can with modesty speak in your own behalf; and thus far I confirm you. O you gods, think I, what need we have any friends, if we should ne’er have need of ’em? They were the most needless creatures living, should we ne’er have use for ’em; and would most resemble sweet instruments hung up in cases, that keeps their sounds to themselves. Why, I have often wish’d myself poorer, that I might come nearer to you. We are born to do benefits; and what better or properer can we call our own than the riches of our friends? O, what a precious comfort ’tis to have so many like brothers commanding one another’s fortunes! O, joy’s e’en made away ere’t can be born! Mine eyes cannot hold out water, methinks. To forget their faults, I drink to you.


Thou weep’st to make them drink, Timon.

2. LORD.

Joy had the like conception in our eyes,

And at that instant like a babe sprung up.


Ho, ho! I laugh to think that babe a bastard.

3. LORD.

I promise you, my lord, you mov’d me much.



Sound tucket within.


What means that trump?

Enter Flaminius.

How now?


Please you, my lord, there are certain ladies most desirous of admittance.


Ladies? What are their wills?


There comes with them a forerunner, my lord, which bears that office to signify their pleasures.


I pray let them be admitted.

Exit Flaminius.

Enter Cupid.


Hail to thee, worthy Timon, and to all

That of his bounties taste! The five best senses

Acknowledge thee their patron, and come freely

To gratulate thy plenteous bosom. There,

Taste, touch, all, pleas’d from thy table rise;

They only now come but to feast thine eyes.


They’re welcome all, let ’em have kind admittance.

Music, make their welcome!

Exit Cupid.

1. LORD.

You see, my lord, how ample y’ are belov’d.


Enter Cupid with the masque of Ladies, as Amazons, with lutes in their hands, dancing and playing.



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.

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.

Who lives that’s not depraved or depraves?

Who dies that bears not one spurn to their graves

Of their friends’ gift?

I should fear those that dance before me now

Would one day stamp upon me. ’T ’as been done;

Men shut their doors against a setting sun.

The Lords rise from table, with much adoring of Timon, and to show their loves, each single out an Amazon, and all dance, men with women, a lofty strain or two to the hoboys, and cease.


You have done our pleasures much grace, fair ladies,

Set a fair fashion on our entertainment,

Which was not half so beautiful and kind;

You have added worth unto’t and lustre,

And entertain’d me with mine own device.

I am to thank you for’t.


My lord, you take us even at the best.


Faith, for the worst is filthy, and would not hold taking, I doubt me.


Ladies, there is an idle banquet attends you,

Please you to dispose yourselves.


Most thankfully, my lord.

Exeunt Cupid and Ladies.




My lord?


The little casket bring me hither.


Yes, my lord.


More jewels yet?

There is no crossing him in ’s humor,

Else I should tell him well (i’ faith, I should),

When all’s spent, he’ld be cross’d then, and he could.

’Tis pity bounty had not eyes behind,

That man might ne’er be wretched for his mind.


Enter Flaminius.

1. LORD.

Where be our men?


Here, my lord, in readiness.

2. LORD.

Our horses!

Enter Flavius with the casket.

Exit Flaminius.


O my friends! I have one word

To say to you. Look you, my good lord,

I must entreat you honor me so much

As to advance this jewel; accept it and wear it,

Kind my lord.

1. LORD.

I am so far already in your gifts—


So are we all.

Enter Servilius.


My lord, there are certain nobles of the Senate

Newly alighted, and come to visit you.


They are fairly welcome.

Exit Servilius.


I beseech your honor,

Vouchsafe me a word, it does concern you near.


Near? Why then another time I’ll hear thee.

I prithee let’s be provided to show them entertainment.



I scarce know how.

Enter Servilius.


May it please your honor, Lord Lucius

(Out of his free love) hath presented to you

Four milk-white horses, trapp’d in silver.


I shall accept them fairly; let the presents

Be worthily entertain’d.

Exit Servilius.

Enter Flaminius.

How now? What news?


Please you, my lord, that honorable gentleman, Lord Lucullus, entreats your company tomorrow to hunt with him, and has sent your honor two brace of greyhounds.


I’ll hunt with him, and let them be receiv’d,

Not without fair reward.

Exit Flaminius.



What will this come to?

He commands us to provide, and give great gifts,

And all out of an empty coffer;

Nor will he know his purse, or yield me this,

To show him what a beggar his heart is,

Being of no power to make his wishes good.

His promises fly so beyond his state

That what he speaks is all in debt: he owes

For ev’ry word. He is so kind that he now

Pays interest for’t; his land’s put to their books.

Well, would I were gently put out of office

Before I were forc’d out!

Happier is he that has no friend to feed

Than such that do e’en enemies exceed.

I bleed inwardly for my lord.



You do yourselves

Much wrong, you bate too much of your own merits.

Here, my lord, a trifle of our love.

2. LORD.

With more than common thanks I will receive it.

3. LORD.

O, he’s the very soul of bounty!


And now I remember, my lord, you gave

Good words the other day of a bay courser

I rode on. ’Tis yours, because you lik’d it.

3. LORD.

O, I beseech you pardon me, my lord, in that.


You may take my word, my lord; I know no man

Can justly praise but what he does affect.

I weigh my friend’s affection with mine own.

I’ll tell you true, I’ll call to you.


O, none so welcome.


I take all and your several visitations

So kind to heart, ’tis not enough to give;

Methinks, I could deal kingdoms to my friends,

And ne’er be weary. Alcibiades,

Thou art a soldier, therefore seldom rich,

It comes in charity to thee; for all thy living

Is ’mongst the dead, and all the lands thou hast

Lie in a pitch’d field.


Ay, defil’d land, my lord.

1. LORD.

We are so virtuously bound—


And so

Am I to you.

2. LORD.

So infinitely endear’d—


All to you. Lights, more lights!

1. LORD.

The best of happiness,

Honor, and fortunes keep with you, Lord Timon!


Ready for his friends.

Exeunt Lords and others. Apemantus and Timon remain.


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 curtsies.


Now, Apemantus, if thou wert not sullen,

I would be good to thee.


No, I’ll nothing; for if I should be brib’d too, there would be none left to rail upon thee, and then thou wouldst sin the faster. Thou giv’st so long, Timon (I fear me), thou wilt give away thyself in paper shortly. What needs these feasts, pomps, and vainglories?


Nay, and you begin to rail on society once, I am sworn not to give regard to you. Farewell, and come with better music.



So; thou wilt not hear me now, thou shalt not then. I’ll lock thy heaven from thee.

O that men’s ears should be

To counsel deaf, but not to flattery!



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