Timon of Athens - Act 1


Scene I. Athens. A hall in Timon's house .

Enter Poet, Painter, Jeweller, Merchant, and others, at several doors .

Poet. Good day, sir.
Pain. I am glad you 're well.
Poet. I have not seen you long: how goes the world?
Pain. It wears, sir, as it grows.
Poet. Ay, that 's well known:
But what particular rarity? what strange,
Which manifold record not matches? See,
Magic of bounty! all these spirits thy power
Hath conjured to attend. I know the merchant.
Pain. I know them both; th' other 's a jeweller.
Mer. O, 'tis a worthy lord.
Jew. Nay, that 's most fix'd.
Mer. A most incomparable man, breathed, as it were,
To an untirable and continuate goodness:
He passes.
Jew. I have a jewel here —
Mer. O, pray, let 's see 't: for the Lord Timon, sir?
Jew. If he will touch the estimate: but, for that —
Poet. [ Reciting to himself ] " When we for recompense have praised the vile,
It stains the glory in that happy verse
Which aptly sings the good."
Mer. 'Tis a good form.
Jew. And rich: here is a water, look ye.
Pain. You are rapt, sir, in some work, some dedication
To the great lord.
Poet. A thing slipp'd idly from me.
Our poesy is as a gum, which oozes
From whence 'tis nourish'd: the fire i' the flint
Shows not till it be struck; our gentle flame
Provokes itself and like the current flies
Each bound it chafes. What have you there?
Pain. A picture, sir. When comes your book forth?
Poet. Upon the heels of my presentment, sir,
Let 's see your piece.
Pain. 'Tis a good piece.
Poet. So 'tis: this comes off well and excellent.
Pain. Indifferent.
Poet. Admirable: how this grace
Speaks his own standing! what a mental power
This eye shoots forth! how big imagination
Moves in this lip! to the dumbness of the gesture
One might interpret.
Pain. It is a pretty mocking of the life,
Here is a touch; is 't good?
Poet. I will say of it,
It tutors nature: artificial strife
Lives in these touches, livelier than life.

Enter certain Senators, and pass over .

Pain. How this lord is follow'd!
Poet. The senators of Athens: happy man!
Pain. Look, more!
Poet. You see this confluence, this great flood of visitors.
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 levell'd malice
Infects one comma in the course I hold;
But flies an eagle flight, bold and forth on,
Leaving no tract behind.
Pain. How shall I understand you?
Poet. I will unbolt to you.
You see how all conditions, how all minds,
As well of glib and slippery creatures as
Of grave and austere quality, tender down
Their services to Lord Timon: his large fortune
Upon his good and gracious nature hanging
Subdues and properties to his love and tendance
All sorts of hearts; yea, from the glass-faced flatterer
To Apemantus, that few things loves better
Than to abhor himself: even he drops down
The knee before him and returns in peace
Most rich in Timon's nod.
Pain. I saw them speak together.
Poet. Sir, I have upon a high and pleasant hill
Feign'd Fortune to be throned: the base o' the mount
Is rank'd with all deserts, all kind of natures,
That labour on the bosom of this sphere
To propagate their states: amongst them all,
Whose eyes are on this sovereign lady fix'd,
One do I personate of Lord Timon's frame,
Whom fortune with her ivory hand watts to her;
Whose present grace to present slaves and servants
Translates his rivals.
Pain. 'Tis conceived to scope.
This throne, this Fortune, and this hill, methinks,
With one man beckon'd from the rest below,
Bowing his head against the steepy mount
To climb his happiness, would be well express'd
In our condition.
Poet. Nay, sir, but hear me on.
All those which were his fellows but of late,
Some better than his value, on the moment
Follow his strides, his lobbies fill with tendance,
Rain sacrificial whispering in his ear,
Make sacred even his stirrup, and through him
Drink the free air.
Pain. Ay, marry, what of these?
Poet. When Fortune in her shift and change of mood
Spurns down her late beloved, all his dependants
Which labour'd after him to the mountain's top
Even on their knees and hands, let him slip down,
Not one accompanying his declining foot.
Pain. 'Tis common:
A thousand moral paintings I can show
That shall demonstrate these quick blows of Fortune's
More pregnantly than words. Yet you do well
To show Lord Timon that mean eyes have seen
The foot above the head.

Trumpets sound. Enter L ORD T IMON ,
addressing himself courteousty to every
suitor; a Messenger from V ENTIDIUS talking
with him: L UCILIUS and other servants
following .

Tim. Imprison'd is he, say you?
Mess. Ay, my good lord: five talents is his debt,
His means most short, his creditors most strait:
Your honourable letter he desires
To those have shut him up; which failing,
Periods his comfort.
Tim. Noble Ventidius! Well;
I am not of that feather to shake off
My friend when he must need me. I do know him
A gentleman that well deserves a help:
Which he shall have: I 'll pay the debt, and free him.
Mess. Your lordship ever binds him.
Tim. Commend me to him: I will send his ransom;
And being enfranchised, bid him come to me.
'Tis not enough to help the feeble up,
But to support him after. Fare you well.
Mess. All happiness to your honour!

Enter an old Athenian.

Old Ath. Lord Timon, hear me speak.
Tim. Freely, good father.
Old Ath. Thou hast a servant named Lucilius.
Tim. I have so: what of him?
Old Ath. Most noble Timon, call the man before thee.
Tim. Attends he here, or no? Lucilius!
Luc. Here, at your lordship's service.
Old Ath. This fellow here, Lord Timon, this thy creature,
By night frequents my house. I am a man
That from my first have been inclined to thrift;
And my estate deserves an heir more raised
Than one which holds a trencher.
Tim. Well; what further?
Old Ath. One only daughter have I, no kin else,
On whom I may confer what I have got:
The maid is fair, o' the youngest for a bride,
And I have bred her at my dearest cost
In qualities of the best. This man of thine
Attempts her love: I prithee, noble lord,
Join with me to forbid him her resort;
Myself have spoke in vain.
Tim. The man is honest.
Old Ath. Therefore he will be, Timon:
His honesty rewards him in itself;
It must not bear my daughter.
Tim. Does she love him?
Old Ath. She is young and apt:
Our own precedent passions do instruct us
What levity 's in youth.
Tim. [ To Lucilius ] Love you the maid?
Luc. Ay, my good lord, and she accepts of it.
Old Ath. If in her marriage my consent be missing,
I call the gods to witness, I will choose
Mine heir from forth the beggars of the world,
And dispossess her all.
Tim. How shall she be endow'd,
If she be mated with an equal husband?
Old Ath. Three talents on the present; in future, all.
Tim. This gentleman of mine hath served me long:
To build his fortune I will strain a little,
For 'tis a bond in men. Give him thy daughter:
What you bestow, in him I 'll counterpoise,
And make him weigh with her.
Old Ath. Most noble lord,
Pawn me to this your honour, she is his.
Tim. My hand to thee; mine honour on my promise.
Luc. Humbly I thank your lordship: never may
That state or fortune fall into my keeping,
Which is not owed to you!
Poet. Vouchsafe my labour, and long live your lordship!
Tim. I thank you; you shall hear from me anon:
Go not away. What have you there, my friend?
Pain. A piece of painting, which I do beseech
Your lordship to accept.
Tim. Painting is welcome.
The painting is almost the natural man;
For since dishonour traffics with man's nature,
He is but outside: these pencill'd figures are
Even such as they give out. I like your work;
And you shall find I like it: wait attendance
Till you hear further from me.
Pain. The gods preserve ye!
Tim. Well fare you, gentleman: give me your hand:
We must needs dine together. Sir, your jewel
Hath suffer'd under praise.
Jew. What, my lord! dispraise?
Tim. A mere satiety of commendations.
If I should pay you for 't as 'tis extoll'd,
It would unclew me quite.
Jew. My lord, 'tis rated
As those which sell would give: but you well know,
Things of like value differing in the owners
Are prized by their masters: believe 't, dear lord,
You mend the jewel by the wearing it,
Tim. Well mock'd.
Mer. No, my good lord; he speaks the common tongue,
Which all men speak with him.
Tim. Look, who comes here: will you be chid?


Jew. We 'll bear, with your lordship.
Mer. He 'll spare none.
Tim. Good morrow to thee, gentle Apemantus!
Apem. Till I be gentle, stay thou for thy good morrow;
When thou art Timon's dog, and these knaves honest.
Tim. Why dost thou call them knaves? thou know'st them not.
Apem. Are they not Athenians?
Tim. Yes.
Apem. Then I repent not.
Jew. You know me, Apemantus?
Apem. Thou know'st I do: I call'd thee by thy name.
Tim. Thou art proud, Apemantus.
Apem. Of nothing so much as that I am not like Timon.
Tim. Whither art going?
Apem. To knock out an honest Athenian's brains.
Tim. That 's a deed thou 'lt die for.
Apem. Right, if doing nothing be death by the law.
Tim. How likest thou this picture, Apemantus?
Apem. The best, for the innocence.
Tim. Wrought he not well that painted it?
Apem. He wrought better that made the painter; and yet he 's but a filthy piece of work.
Pain. You 're a dog.
Apem. Thy mother 's of my generation: what 's she, if I be a dog?
Tim. Wilt dine with me, Apemantus?
Apem. No; I eat not lords.
Tim. An thou shouldst, thou 'ldst anger ladies.
Apem. O, they eat lords; so they come by great bellies.
Tim. That 's a lascivious apprehension.
Apem. So thou apprehendest it: take it for thy labour.
Tim. How dost thou like this jewel, Apemantus?
Apem. Not so well as plain-dealing, which will not cost a man a doit.
Tim. What dost thou think 'tis worth?
Apem. Not worth my thinking. How now, poet!
Poet. How now, philosopher!
Apem. Thou liest.
Poet. Art not one?
Apem. Yes.
Poet. Then I lie not.
Apem. Art not a poet?
Poet. Yes.
Apem. Then thou liest: look in thy last work, where thou hast feigned him a worthy fellow.
Poet. That ' not feigned; he is so.
Apem. Yes, he is worthy of thee, and to pay thee for thy labour: he that loves to be fattered is worthy o' the flatterer. Heavens, that I were a lord!
Tim. What wouldst do then, Apemantus?
Apem. E'en as Apemantus does now; hate a lord with my heart.
Tim. What, thyself?
Apem. Ay.
Tim. Wherefore?
Apem. That I had no angry wit to be a lord. Art not thou a merchant?
Mer. Ay, Apemantus.
Apem. Traffic confound thee, if the gods will not!
Mer. If traffic do it, the gods do it.
Apem. Traffic 's thy god; and thy god confound thee!

Trumpet sounds. Enter a Messenger.

Tim. What trumpet 's that?
Mess. 'Tis Alcibiades, and some twenty horse,
All of companionship.
Tim. Pray, entertain them; give them guide to us.
You must needs dine with me: go not you hence
Till I have thank'd you: when dinner 's done,
Show me this piece. I am joyful of your sights.

Enter A LCIBIADES , with the rest .

Most welcome, sir!
Apem. So, so, there!
Aches contract and starve your supple joints!
That there should be small love 'mongst these sweet knaves,
And all this courtesy! The strain of man 's bred out
Into baboon and monkey.
Alcib. Sir, you have saved my longing, and I feed
Most hungerly on your sight.
Tim. Right welcome, sir!
Ere we depart, we 'll share a bounteous time
In different pleasures. Pray you, let us in.

Enter two Lords.

First Lord. What time o' day is 't, Apemantus?
Apem. Time to be honest.
First Lord. That time serves still.
Apem. The more accursed thou, that still omitt'st it.
Sec. Lord. Thou art going to Lord Timon's feast?
Apem. Ay, to see meat fill knaves and wine heat fools.
Sec. Lord. Fare thee well, fare thee well.
Apem. Thou art a fool to bid me farewell twice.
Sec. Lord. Why, Apemantus?
Apem. Shouldst have kept one to thyself, for I mean to give thee none.
First Lord. Hang thyself!
Apem. No, I will do nothing at thy bidding: make thy requests to thy friend.
Sec. Lord. Away, unpeaceable dog, or I 'll spurn thee hence!
Apem. I will fly, like a dog, the heels o' the ass.
First Lord. He 's opposite to humanity. Come, shall we in,
And taste Lord Timon's bounty? he outgoes
The very heart of kindness.
Sec. Lord. He pours it out; Plutus, the god of gold,
Is but his steward: no meed, but he repays
Sevenfold above itself; no gift to him,
But breeds the giver a return exceeding
All use of quittance.
First Lord. The noblest mind he carries
That ever govern'd man.
Sec. Lord. Long may he live in fortunes! Shall we in?
First Lord. I 'll keep you company.

Scene II. A banqueting-room in Timon's house .

Hautboys playing loud music. A great banquet served in; F LAVIUS and others attending; then enter L ORD T IMON , A LCIBIADES , Lords, Senators, and V ENTIDIUS . Then comes, dropping after all , A PEMANTUS , discontentedly, like himself .

Ven. Most honour'd 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:
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 derived liberty.
Tim. 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.
Ven. A noble spirit!
Tim. Nay, my lords,
Ceremony was but devised 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.
First Lord. My lord, we always have confess'd it.
Apem. Ho, ho, confess'd it! hang'd it, have you not?
Tim. O, Apemantus, you are welcome.
Apem. No;
You shall not make me welcome:
I come to have thee thrust me out of doors.
Tim. Fie, thou 'rt a churl; ye 've got a humour there
Does not become a man; 'tis much to blame. They say, my lords, " ira furor brevis est;" but yond man is every angry. Go, let him have a table by himself, for he does neither affect company, nor is he fit for 't, indeed.
Apem. Let me stay at thine apperil, Timon:
I come to observe; I give thee warning on 't.
Tim. I take no heed of thee; thou 'rt an Athenian, therefore welcome: I myself would have no power; prithee, let my meat make thee silent.
Apem. I scorn thy meat; 'twould choke me, for I should ne'er flatter thee. O you gods, what a number of men eat 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 has been proved. 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.
Tim. My lord, in heart; and let the health go round.
Sec. Lord. Let it flow this way, my good lord.
Apem. Flow this way! A brave fellow! be 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' the 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 my friends, if I should need 'em.
Amen. So fall to 't:
Rich men sin, and I eat root.
Much good dich thy good heart, Apemantus!
Tim. Captain Alcibiades, your heart's in the field now.
Alcib. My heart is ever at your service, my lord.
Tim. You had rather be at a breakfast of enemies than a dinner of friends.
Alcib. So they were bleeding-new, my lord, there 's no meat like 'em: I could wish my best friend at such a feast.
Apem. Would all those flatterers were thine enemies then, that then thou mightst kill 'em and bid me to 'em!
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 for ever perfect.
Tim. 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 titlefrom 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 keep their sounds to themselves. Why, I have often wished 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 that the riches of our friends? O, what a precious comfort 'tis, to have so many, like brothers, commanding one another's fortunes! O joy, e'en made away ere 't can be born! Mine eyes cannot hold out water, methinks: to forget their faults, I drink to you.
Apem. Thou weepest to make them drink, Timon.
Sec. Lord. Joy had the like conception in our eyes
And at that instant like a babe sprung up.
Apem. Ho, ho! I laugh to think that babe a bastard.
Third Lord. I promise you, my lord, you moved me much.
Apem. Much!
Tim. What means that trump?

Enter a Servant.

How now?
Serv. Please you, my lord, there are certain ladies most desirous of admittance.
Tim. Ladies! what are their wills?
Serv. There comes with them a forerunner, my lord, which bears that office, to signify their pleasures.
Tim. I pray, let them be admitted.

Enter Cupid .

Cup. 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: th' ear,
Taste, touch and smell, pleased from thy table rise;
They only now come but to feast thine eyes.
Tim. They 're welcome all; let 'em have kind admittance:
Music, make their welcome!
First Lord. You see, my lord, how ample you 're beloved.

Music. Re-enter Cupid , with a mask of Ladies as Amazons, with lutes in their hands, dancing and playing .

Apem. Hoy-day, what a sweep of vanity comes this way!
They dance! they are mad women.
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 has been done;
Men shut their doors against a setting sun.

The Lords rise from table, with much adoring of T IMON ; and to show their loves, each singles out an Amazon, and all dance, men with women, a lofty strain or two to the hautboys, and cease .

Tim. 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.
First Lady. My lord, you take us even at the best.
Apem. " Faith, for the worst is filthy; and would not hold taking, I doubt me.
Tim. Ladies, there is an idle banquet attends you:
Please you to dispose yourselves.
All Ladies. Most thankfully, my lord.
Tim. Flavius.
Flav. My lord?
Tim. The little casket bring me hither.
Flav. Yes, my lord. More rewels yet!
There is no crossing him in 's humour;
Else I should tell him, — well, i' faith, I should,
When all 's spent, he 'ld be cross'd then, an he could.
'Tis pity bounty had not eyes behind
That man might ne'er be wretched for his mind.
First Lord. Where be our men?
Serv. Here, my lord, in readiness.
Sec. Lord. Our horses!

Re-enter F LAVIUS , with the casket .

Tim. O my friends,
I have one word to say to you: look you, my good lord,
I must entreat you, honour me so much
As to advance this jewel; accept it and wear it,
Kind my lord.
First Lord. I am so far already in your gifts, —
All. So are we all.

Enter a Servant.

Serv. My lord, there are certain nobles of the senate
Newly alighted, and come to visit you.
Tim. They are fairly welcome.
Flav. I beseech your honour,
Vouchsafe me a word; it does concern you near.
Tim. Near! why then, another time I 'll hear thee:
I prithee, let 's be provided to show the entertainment.
Flav. [ Aside ] I scarce know how.

Enter a second Servant.

Sec. Serv. May it please your honour, Lord Lucius,
Out of his free love, hath presented to you
Four milk-white horses, trapp'd in silver.
Tim. I shall accept them fairly; let the presents
Be worthily entertain'd.

Enter a third Servant.

How now! what news?
Third Serv. Please you, my lord, that honourable gentleman, Lord Lucullus, entreats your company to-morrow to hunt with him, and has sent your honour two brace of greyhounds.
Tim. I 'll hunt with him; and let them be received,
Not without fair reward.
Flav. [ Aside ] 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 every 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 forced out!
Happier is he that has no friend to feed
Than such that do e'en enemies exceed.
I bleed inwardly for my lord.
Tim. You do yourselves
Much wrong, you bate too much of your own merits:
Here, my lord, a trifle of our love.
Sec. Lord. With more than common thanks I will receive it.
Third Lord. O, he 's the very soul of bounty!
Tim. And now I remember, my lord, you gave
Good words the other day of a bay courser
I rode on: it is yours, because you liked it.
Sec. Lord. O, I beseech you, pardon me my lord, in that.
Tim. 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.
All Lords. O, none so welcome.
Tim. 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.
Alcib. Ay, defiled land, my lord,
First Lord. We are so virtuously bound —
Tim. And so
Am I to you.
Sec. Lord. So infinitely endear'd —
Tim. All to you. Lights, more lights!
First Lord. The best of happiness,
Honour and fortunes, keep with you, Lord Timon!
Tim. Ready for his friends.
Apem. 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.
Tim. Now, Apemantus, if thou wert not sullen,
I would be good to thee.
Apem. No, I 'll nothing: for if I should be bribed too, there would be none left to raid upon thee, and then thou wouldst sin the faster. Thou givest so long, Timon, I fear me thou wilt give away thyself in paper shortly; what need these feasts, pomps and vain-glories?
Tim. Nay, an you begin to rail on society once, I am sworn not to give regard to you.
Farewell; and come with better music.
Apem. 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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