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Timon of Athens - Act 1, scene 1
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Navigate this workTimon of Athens - Act 1, scene 1
Act 1, scene 1
The stage fills with suitors to and admirers of Lord Timon. When he arrives, he spends lavishly in freeing a friend from prison, financing the marriage of one of his servants, patronizing artists, and buying a jewel. He also invites many in the crowd to dinner at his house, including Alcibiades and the Cynic philosopher Apemantus, who reviles Timon’s other guests.Enter Poet, Painter, Jeweler, ⌜and⌝ Merchant, at several
POET 0001 Good day, sir.
PAINTER 0002 I am glad you’re well.
0003 I have not seen you long. How goes the world?
0004 It wears, sir, as it grows.
POET 0005 5 Ay, that’s well known.
0006 But what particular rarity, what strange,
0007 Which manifold record not matches? See,
0008 Magic of bounty, all these spirits thy power
0009 Hath conjured to attend. I know the merchant.
PAINTER 0010 10I know them both. Th’ other’s a jeweler.
MERCHANT, ⌜to Jeweler⌝
0011 O, ’tis a worthy lord!
JEWELER 0012 Nay, that’s most fixed.
0013 A most incomparable man, breathed, as it were,
0014 To an untirable and continuate goodness.
0015 15 He passes.
JEWELER 0016 I have a jewel here—
0017 O, pray, let’s see ’t. For the Lord Timon, sir?
0018 If he will touch the estimate. But for that—
POET, ⌜to Painter⌝
0019 When we for recompense have praised the vile,
0020 20 It stains the glory in that happy verse
0021 Which aptly sings the good.
MERCHANT, ⌜looking at the jewel⌝
0022 ’Tis a good form.
JEWELER 0023 And rich. Here is a water, look ye.
PAINTER, ⌜to Poet⌝
0024 You are rapt, sir, in some work, some dedication
0025 25 To the great lord.
POET 0026 A thing slipped idly from me.
0027 Our poesy is as a ⌜gum⌝ which ⌜oozes⌝
0028 From whence ’tis nourished. The fire i’ th’ flint
0029 Shows not till it be struck; our gentle flame
0030 30 Provokes itself and, like the current, flies
0031 Each bound it chases. What have you there?
0032 A picture, sir. When comes your book forth?
0033 Upon the heels of my presentment, sir.
0034 Let’s see your piece.
PAINTER 0035 35’Tis a good piece.
0036 So ’tis. This comes off well and excellent.
POET 0038 Admirable! How this grace
0039 Speaks his own standing! What a mental power
0040 40 This eye shoots forth! How big imagination
0041 Moves in this lip! To th’ dumbness of the gesture
0042 One might interpret.
0043 It is a pretty mocking of the life.
0044 Here is a touch. Is ’t good?
p. 11POET 0045 45 I will say of it,
0046 It tutors nature. Artificial strife
0047 Lives in these touches livelier than life.
Enter certain Senators.
PAINTER 0048 How this lord is followed.
0049 The senators of Athens, happy men.
PAINTER 0050 50Look, more.
0051 You see this confluence, this great flood of visitors.
0052 (⌜Indicating his poem.⌝) I have in this rough work
0053 shaped out a man
0054 Whom this beneath world doth embrace and hug
0055 55 With amplest entertainment. My free drift
0056 Halts not particularly but moves itself
0057 In a wide sea of wax. No leveled malice
0058 Infects one comma in the course I hold,
0059 But flies an eagle flight, bold and forth on,
0060 60 Leaving no tract behind.
PAINTER 0061 How shall I understand you?
POET 0062 I will unbolt to you.
0063 You see how all conditions, how all minds,
0064 As well of glib and slipp’ry creatures as
0065 65 Of grave and austere quality, tender down
0066 Their services to Lord Timon. His large fortune,
0067 Upon his good and gracious nature hanging,
0068 Subdues and properties to his love and tendance
0069 All sorts of hearts—yea, from the glass-faced flatterer
0070 70 To Apemantus, that few things loves better
0071 Than to abhor himself; even he drops down
0072 The knee before him and returns in peace
0073 Most rich in Timon’s nod.
PAINTER 0074 I saw them speak together.
0075 75 Sir, I have upon a high and pleasant hill
p. 130076 Feigned Fortune to be throned. The base o’ th’ mount
0077 Is ranked with all deserts, all kind of natures
0078 That labor on the bosom of this sphere
0079 To propagate their states. Amongst them all
0080 80 Whose eyes are on this sovereign lady fixed,
0081 One do I personate of Lord Timon’s frame,
0082 Whom Fortune with her ivory hand wafts to her,
0083 Whose present grace to present slaves and servants
0084 Translates his rivals.
PAINTER 0085 85 ’Tis conceived to scope.
0086 This throne, this Fortune, and this hill, methinks,
0087 With one man beckoned from the rest below,
0088 Bowing his head against the steepy mount
0089 To climb his happiness, would be well expressed
0090 90 In our condition.
POET 0091 Nay, sir, but hear me on.
0092 All those which were his fellows but of late,
0093 Some better than his value, on the moment
0094 Follow his strides, his lobbies fill with tendance,
0095 95 Rain sacrificial whisperings in his ear,
0096 Make sacred even his stirrup, and through him
0097 Drink the free air.
PAINTER 0098 Ay, marry, what of these?
0099 When Fortune in her shift and change of mood
0100 100 Spurns down her late beloved, all his dependants,
0101 Which labored after him to the mountain’s top
0102 Even on their knees and ⌜hands,⌝ let him ⌜slip⌝ down,
0103 Not one accompanying his declining foot.
PAINTER 0104 ’Tis common.
0105 105 A thousand moral paintings I can show
0106 That shall demonstrate these quick blows of
0108 More pregnantly than words. Yet you do well
0109 To show Lord Timon that mean eyes have seen
0110 110 The foot above the head.
p. 15Trumpets sound. Enter Lord Timon, addressing himself
courteously to every suitor. ⌜He is accompanied by a
Messenger and followed by Lucilius and other
TIMON 0111 Imprisoned is he, say you?
0112 Ay, my good lord. Five talents is his debt,
0113 His means most short, his creditors most strait.
0114 Your honorable letter he desires
0115 115 To those have shut him up, which failing
0116 Periods his comfort.
TIMON 0117 Noble Ventidius. Well,
0118 I am not of that feather to shake off
0119 My friend when he must need me. I do know him
0120 120 A gentleman that well deserves a help,
0121 Which he shall have. I’ll pay the debt and free him.
MESSENGER 0122 Your Lordship ever binds him.
0123 Commend me to him. I will send his ransom;
0124 And, being enfranchised, bid him come to me.
0125 125 ’Tis not enough to help the feeble up,
0126 But to support him after. Fare you well.
MESSENGER 0127 All happiness to your Honor.He exits.
Enter an old Athenian.
0128 Lord Timon, hear me speak.
TIMON 0129 Freely, good father.
0130 130 Thou hast a servant named Lucilius.
TIMON 0131 I have so. What of him?
0132 Most noble Timon, call the man before thee.
0133 Attends he here or no?—Lucilius!
p. 17LUCILIUS 0134 Here, at your Lordship’s service.
0135 135 This fellow here, Lord Timon, this thy creature,
0136 By night frequents my house. I am a man
0137 That from my first have been inclined to thrift,
0138 And my estate deserves an heir more raised
0139 Than one which holds a trencher.
TIMON 0140 140 Well. What further?
0141 One only daughter have I, no kin else
0142 On whom I may confer what I have got.
0143 The maid is fair, o’ th’ youngest for a bride,
0144 And I have bred her at my dearest cost
0145 145 In qualities of the best. This man of thine
0146 Attempts her love. I prithee, noble lord,
0147 Join with me to forbid him her resort.
0148 Myself have spoke in vain.
TIMON 0149 The man is honest.
OLD MAN 0150 150Therefore he will be, Timon.
0151 His honesty rewards him in itself;
0152 It must not bear my daughter.
TIMON 0153 Does she love him?
OLD MAN 0154 She is young and apt.
0155 155 Our own precedent passions do instruct us
0156 What levity’s in youth.
TIMON, ⌜to Lucilius⌝ 0157 Love you the maid?
0158 Ay, my good lord, and she accepts of it.
0159 If in her marriage my consent be missing—
0160 160 I call the gods to witness—I will choose
0161 Mine heir from forth the beggars of the world
0162 And dispossess her all.
TIMON 0163 How shall she be endowed
0164 If she be mated with an equal husband?
p. 19OLD MAN
0165 165 Three talents on the present; in future, all.
0166 This gentleman of mine hath served me long.
0167 To build his fortune, I will strain a little,
0168 For ’tis a bond in men. Give him thy daughter.
0169 What you bestow, in him I’ll counterpoise,
0170 170 And make him weigh with her.
OLD MAN 0171 Most noble lord,
0172 Pawn me to this your honor, she is his.
0173 My hand to thee; mine honor on my promise.
0174 Humbly I thank your Lordship. Never may
0175 175 That state or fortune fall into my keeping
0176 Which is not owed to you.
He exits ⌜with the old Athenian.⌝
POET, ⌜presenting his poem to Timon⌝
0177 Vouchsafe my labor, and long live your Lordship.
0178 I thank you. You shall hear from me anon.
0179 Go not away.—What have you there, my friend?
0180 180 A piece of painting which I do beseech
0181 Your Lordship to accept.
TIMON 0182 Painting is welcome.
0183 The painting is almost the natural man,
0184 For, since dishonor traffics with man’s nature,
0185 185 He is but outside; these penciled figures are
0186 Even such as they give out. I like your work,
0187 And you shall find I like it. Wait attendance
0188 Till you hear further from me.
PAINTER 0189 The gods preserve you.
0190 190 Well fare you, gentleman. Give me your hand.
p. 210191 We must needs dine together.—Sir, your jewel
0192 Hath suffered under praise.
JEWELER 0193 What, my lord? Dispraise?
0194 A mere satiety of commendations.
0195 195 If I should pay you for ’t as ’tis extolled,
0196 It would unclew me quite.
JEWELER 0197 My lord, ’tis rated
0198 As those which sell would give. But you well know
0199 Things of like value, differing in the owners,
0200 200 Are prizèd by their masters. Believe ’t, dear lord,
0201 You mend the jewel by the wearing it.
TIMON 0202 Well mocked.
0203 No, my good lord. He speaks the common tongue,
0204 Which all men speak with him.
TIMON 0205 205Look who comes here. Will you be chid?
JEWELER 0206 We’ll bear, with your Lordship.
MERCHANT 0207 He’ll spare none.
0208 Good morrow to thee, gentle Apemantus.
0209 Till I be gentle, stay thou for thy good morrow—
0210 210 When thou art Timon’s dog, and these knaves honest.
0211 Why dost thou call them knaves? Thou know’st
0212 them not.
APEMANTUS 0213 Are they not Athenians?
TIMON 0214 Yes.
APEMANTUS 0215 215Then I repent not.
JEWELER 0216 You know me, Apemantus?
APEMANTUS 0217 Thou know’st I do. I called thee by thy
TIMON 0219 Thou art proud, Apemantus.
p. 23APEMANTUS 0220 220Of nothing so much as that I am not like
TIMON 0222 Whither art going?
APEMANTUS 0223 To knock out an honest Athenian’s brains.
TIMON 0224 That’s a deed thou ’lt die for.
APEMANTUS 0225 225Right, if doing nothing be death by th’ law.
TIMON 0226 How lik’st thou this picture, Apemantus?
APEMANTUS 0227 The best, for the innocence.
TIMON 0228 Wrought he not well that painted it?
APEMANTUS 0229 He wrought better that made the painter,
0230 230 and yet he’s but a filthy piece of work.
PAINTER 0231 You’re a dog.
APEMANTUS 0232 Thy mother’s of my generation. What’s
0233 she, if I be a dog?
TIMON 0234 Wilt dine with me, Apemantus?
APEMANTUS 0235 235No. I eat not lords.
TIMON 0236 An thou shouldst, thou ’dst anger ladies.
APEMANTUS 0237 O, they eat lords. So they come by great
TIMON 0239 That’s a lascivious apprehension.
APEMANTUS 0240 240So thou apprehend’st it. Take it for thy
TIMON 0242 How dost thou like this jewel, Apemantus?
APEMANTUS 0243 Not so well as plain-dealing, which will
0244 not ⌜cost⌝ a man a doit.
TIMON 0245 245What dost thou think ’tis worth?
APEMANTUS 0246 Not worth my thinking.—How now, poet?
POET 0247 How now, philosopher?
APEMANTUS 0248 Thou liest.
POET 0249 Art not one?
APEMANTUS 0250 250Yes.
POET 0251 Then I lie not.
APEMANTUS 0252 Art not a poet?
POET 0253 Yes.
APEMANTUS 0254 Then thou liest. Look in thy last work,
0255 255 where thou hast feigned him a worthy fellow.
p. 25POET 0256 That’s not feigned. He is so.
APEMANTUS 0257 Yes, he is worthy of thee, and to pay thee
0258 for thy labor. He that loves to be flattered is worthy
0259 o’ th’ flatterer. Heavens, that I were a lord!
TIMON 0260 260What wouldst do then, Apemantus?
APEMANTUS 0261 E’en as Apemantus does now—hate a lord
0262 with my heart.
TIMON 0263 What? Thyself?
APEMANTUS 0264 Ay.
TIMON 0265 265Wherefore?
APEMANTUS 0266 That I had no angry wit to be a lord.—Art
0267 not thou a merchant?
MERCHANT 0268 Ay, Apemantus.
APEMANTUS 0269 Traffic confound thee, if the gods will not.
MERCHANT 0270 270If traffic do it, the gods do it.
APEMANTUS 0271 Traffic’s thy god, and thy god confound
Trumpet sounds. Enter a Messenger.
TIMON 0273 What trumpet’s that?
0274 ’Tis Alcibiades and some twenty horse,
0275 275 All of companionship.
0276 Pray, entertain them. Give them guide to us.
⌜Some Servants exit with Messenger.⌝
0277 You must needs dine with me. Go not you hence
0278 Till I have thanked you.—When dinner’s done
0279 Show me this piece.—I am joyful of your sights.
Enter Alcibiades with the rest.
0280 280 Most welcome, sir.⌜They bow to each other.⌝
APEMANTUS, ⌜apart⌝ 0281 So, so, there!
0282 Aches contract and starve your supple joints!
0283 That there should be small love amongst these sweet
p. 270285 285 And all this courtesy! The strain of man’s bred out
0286 Into baboon and monkey.
ALCIBIADES, ⌜to Timon⌝
0287 Sir, you have saved my longing, and I feed
0288 Most hungerly on your sight.
TIMON 0289 Right welcome, sir.
0290 290 Ere we depart, we’ll share a bounteous time
0291 In different pleasures. Pray you, let us in.
⌜All but Apemantus⌝ exit.
Enter two Lords.
FIRST LORD 0292 What time o’ day is ’t, Apemantus?
APEMANTUS 0293 Time to be honest.
FIRST LORD 0294 That time serves still.
0295 295 The most accursèd thou, that still omit’st it.
SECOND LORD 0296 Thou art going to Lord Timon’s feast?
0297 Ay, to see meat fill knaves, and wine heat fools.
SECOND LORD 0298 Fare thee well, fare thee well.
0299 Thou art a fool to bid me farewell twice.
SECOND LORD 0300 300Why, Apemantus?
0301 Shouldst have kept one to thyself, for I mean to give
0302 thee none.
FIRST LORD 0303 Hang thyself.
0304 No, I will do nothing at thy bidding.
0305 305 Make thy requests to thy friend.
0306 Away, unpeaceable dog, or I’ll spurn thee hence.
APEMANTUS 0307 I will fly, like a dog, the heels o’ th’ ass.
0308 He’s opposite to humanity. ⌜Come,⌝ shall we in
p. 290309 And taste Lord Timon’s bounty? He outgoes
0310 310 The very heart of kindness.
0311 He pours it out. Plutus, the god of gold,
0312 Is but his steward. No meed but he repays
0313 Sevenfold above itself. No gift to him
0314 But breeds the giver a return exceeding
0315 315 All use of quittance.
FIRST LORD 0316 The noblest mind he carries
0317 That ever governed man.
0318 Long may he live in fortunes. Shall we in?
0319 I’ll keep you company.