William Shakespeare's Timon of Athens in the complete original text.
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Timon of Athens

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Act IV. Scene III.

Scene III.—Woods and Cave near the

Enter TIMON from the Cave.

Tim. O blessed breeding sun! draw from the
Rotten humidity; below thy sister's orb
Infect the air! Twinn'd brothers of one womb,
Whose procreation, residence and birth,
Scarce is dividant, touch them with several for-
The greater scorns the lesser: not nature,
To whom all sores lay siege, can bear great for-
But by contempt of nature.
Raise me this beggar, and deny't that lord;
The senator shall bear contempt hereditary,
The beggar native honour.
It is the pasture lards the rother's sides,
The want that makes him lean. Who dares, who
In purity of manhood stand upright,
And say, 'This man's a flatterer?' if one be,
So are they all; for every grize of fortune
Is smooth'd by that below: the learned pate
Ducks to the golden fool: all is oblique;
There's nothing' level in our cursed natures
But direct villany. Therefore, be abhorr'd
All feasts, societies, and throngs of men!
His semblable, yea, himself, Timon disdains:
Destruction fang mankind! Earth, yield me
roots! [Digging.
Who seeks for better of thee, sauce his palate
With thy most operant poison! What is here?
Gold! yellow, glittering, precious gold! No, gods,
I am no idle votarist. Roots, you clear heavens!
Thus much of this will make black white, foul
Wrong right, base noble, old young, coward
Ha! you gods, why this? What this, you gods?
Will lug your priests and servants from your
Pluck stout men's pillows from below their
This yellow slave
Will knit and break religions; bless the ac-
Make the hoar leprosy ador'd; place thieves,
And give them title, knee, and approbation,
With senators on the bench; this is it
That makes the wappen'd widow wed again;
She, whom the spital-house and ulcerous sores
Would cast the gorge at, this embalms and
To the April day again. Come, damned earth,
Thou common whore of mankind, that putt'st
Among the rout of nations, I will make thee
Do thy right nature.—[Starch afar off] Ha! a
drum? thou'rt quick,
But yet I'll bury thee: thou'it go, strong thief,
When gouty keepers of thee cannot stand:
Nay, stay thou out for earnest.
[Keeping some gold.

Enter ALCIBIADES, with drum and fife, in war-
like manner; PHRYNIA and TIMANDRA.
Alcib. What art thou there? speak.
Tim. A beast, as thou art. The canker gnaw
thy heart,
For showing me again the eyes of man!
Alcib. What is thy name? Is man so hate-
ful to thee,
That art thyself a man?
Tim. I am Misanthropos, and hate mankind.
For thy part, I do wish thou wert a dog,
That I might love thee something.
Alcib. I know thee well,
But in thy fortunes am unlearn'd and strange.
Tim. I know thee too; and more than that
I know thee
I not desire to know. Follow thy drum;
With man's blood paint the ground, gules,
Religious canons, civil laws are cruel;
Then what should war be? This fell whore of
Hath in her more destruction than thy sword
For all her cherubin look.
Phry. Thy lips rot off!
Tim. I will not kiss thee; then the rot re-
To thine own lips again.
Alcib. How came the noble Timon to this
Tim. As the moon does, by wanting light to
But then renew I could not like the moon;
There were no suns to borrow of.
Alcib. Noble Timon, what friendship may I
do thee?
Tim. None, but to maintain my opinion.
Alcib. What is it, Timon?
Tim. Promise me friendship, but perform
none: if thou wilt not promise, the gods plague
thee, for thou art a man! if thou dost perform,
confound thee, for thou art a man!
Alcib. I have heard in some sort of thy
Tim. Thou saw'st them, when I had prosperity.
Alcib. I see them now; then was a blessed
Tim. As thine is now, held with a brace of
Timan. Is this the Athenian minion, whom
the world
Voic'd so regardfully?
Tim. Art thou Timandra?
Timan. Yes.
Tim. Be a whore still; they love thee not
that use thee;
Give them diseases, leaving with thee their lust
Make use of thy salt hours; season the slaves
For tubs and baths; bring down rose-cheek'd
To the tub-fast and the diet.
Timan. Hang thee, monster!
Alcib. Pardon him, sweet Timandra, for his
Are drown'd and lost in his calamities.
I have but little gold of late, brave Timon,
The want whereof doth daily make revolt
In my penurious band: I have heard and griev'd
How cursed Athens, mindless of thy worth,
Forgetting thy great deeds, when neighbour
But for thy sword and fortune, trod upon them,—
Tim. I prithee, beat thy drum, and get thee
Alcib. I am thy friend, and pity thee, dear
Tim. How dost thou pity him whom thou
dost trouble?
I had rather be alone.
Alcib. Why, fare thee well:
Here is some gold for thee.
Tim. Keep it, I cannot eat it
Alcib. When I have laid proud Athens on a
Tim. Warr'st thou 'gainst Athens?
Alcib. Ay, Timon, and have cause.
Tim. The gods confound them all in thy con-
quest; and
Thee after, when thou hast conquer'd!
Alcib. Why me, Timon?
Tim. That, by killing of villains, thou wast
born to conquer
My country.
Put up thy gold: go on,—here's gold,—go on;
Be as a planetary plague, when Jove
Will o'er some high-vic'd city. hang his poison
In the sick air: let not thy sword skip one.
Pity not honour'd age for his white beard;
He is a usurer. Strike me the counterfeit
It is her habit only that is honest,
Herself's a bawd. Let not the virgin's cheek
Make soft thy trenchant sword; for those milk-
That through the window-bars bore at men's
Are not within the leaf of pity writ,
But set them down horrible traitors. Spare not
the babe,
Whose dimpled smiles from fools exhaust their
Think it a bastard, whom the oracle
Hath doubtfully pronounc'd thy throat shall cut,
And mince it sans remorse. Swear against
Put armour on thine ears and on thine eyes,
Whose proof nor yells of mothers, maids, nor
Nor sight of priests in holy vestments bleeding,
Shall pierce a jot. There's gold to pay thy
Make large confusion; and, thy fury spent,
Confounded be thyself! Speak not, be gone.
Alcib. Hast thou gold yet? I'll take the
gold thou giv'st me,
Not all thy counsel.
Tim. Dost thou, or dost thou not, heaven's
curse upon thee!
Phr. & Timan.}Give us some gold, good Timon:
hast thou more?
Tim. Enough to make a whore forswear her
And to make whores a bawd. Hold up, you
Your aprons mountant: you are not oathable,
Although, I know, you'll swear, terribly swear
Into strong shudders and to heavenly agues
The immortal gods that hear you, spare your
oaths,I'll trust to your conditions: be whores still;
And he whose pious breath seeks to convert you,
Be strong in whore, allure him, burn him up;
Let your close fire predominate his smoke,
And be no turncoats: yet may your pains, six
Be quite contrary: and thatch your poor thin
With burdens of the dead; some that were
No matter; wear them, betray with them: whore
Paint till a horse may mire upon your face:
A pox of wrinkles!
Phr. & Tim.} Well, more gold. What then?
Believe't, that we'll do anything for gold.
Tim. Consumptions sow
In hollow bones of man; strike their sharp
And mar men's spurring. Crack the lawyer's
That he may never more false title plead,
Nor sound his quillets shrilly: hoar the flamen,
That scolds against the quality of flesh,
And not believes himself: down with the nose,
Down with it flat; take the bridge quite away
Of him that, his particular to foresee,
Smells from the general weal: make curl'd-pate
ruffians bald,
And let the unscarr'd braggarts of the war
Derive some pain from you: plague all,
That your activity may defeat and quell
The source of all erection. There's more gold;
Do you damn others, and let this damn you,
And ditches grave you all!
Phr. & Tim.} More counsel with more money,
bounteous Timon.
Tim. More whore, more mischief first; I have
given you earnest.
Alcib. Strike up the drum towards Athens!
Farewell, Timon:
If I thrive well, I'll visit thee again.
Tim. If I hope well, I'll never see thee more.
Alcib. I never did thee harm.
Tim. Yes, thou spok'st well of me.
Alcib. Call'st thou that harm?
Tim. Men daily find it. Get thee away, and
Thy beagles with thee.
Alcib. We but offend him. Strike!
[Drum beats. Exeunt ALCIBIADES,
Tim. That nature, being sick of man's un-
Should yet be hungry! Common mother, thou,
Whose womb unmeasurable, and infinite breast,
Teems, and feeds all; whose self-same mettle,
Whereof thy proud child, arrogant man, is puffd,
Engenders the black toad and adder blue,
The gilded newt and eyeless venom'd worm,
With all the abhorred births below crisp heaven
Whereon Hyperion's quickening fire doth shine;
Yield him, whoall thy human sons doth hate,
From forth thy plenteous bosom, one poor root!
Ensear thy fertile and conceptious womb,
Let it no more bring out ingrateful man!
Go great with tigers, dragons, wolves, and bears;
Teem with new monsters, whom thy upward
Hath to the marbled mansion all above
Never presented! O! a root; dear thanks:
Dry up thy marrows, vines and plough-torn
Whereof ingrateful man, with liquorish draughts
And morsels unctuous, greases his pure mind,
That from it all consideration slips!

More man! Plague! plague!
Apem. I was directed hither: men report
Thou dost affect my manners, and dost use them.
Tim. 'Tis, then, because thou dost not keep
a dog
Whom I would imitate: consumption catch.
Apem. This is in thee a nature but infected;
A poor unmanly melancholy sprung
From change of fortune. Why this spade? this
This slave-like habit? and these looks of care?
Thy flatterers yet wear silk, drink wine, lie soft,
Hug their diseas'd perfumes, and have forgot
That ever Timon was. Shame not these woods
By putting on the cunning of a carper.
Be thou a flatterer now, and seek to thrive
By that which has undone thee: hinge thy knee,
And let his very breath, whom thou'lt observe,
Blow off thy cap; praise his most vicious strain.
And call it excellent. Thou wast told thus;
Thou gav'st thine ears, like tapsters that bid
To knaves and all approachers: 'tis most just
That thou turn rascal; hadst thou wealth again,
Rascals should have't. Do not assume my
Tim. Were I like thee I'd throw away myself.
Apem. Thou hast cast away thyself, being
like thyself;
A madman so long, now a fool. What! think'st
That the bleak air, thy boisterous chamberlain,
Will put thy shirt on warm? will these moss'd
That have outliv'd the eagle, page thy heels
And skip when thou point'st out? will the cold
Candied with ice, caudle thy morning taste
To cure the o'er-night's surfeit? Call the
Whose naked natures live in all the spite
Of wreakful heaven, whose bare unhoused trunks
To the conflicting elements expos'd,
Answer mere nature; bid them flatter thee;
O! thou shalt find—
Tim. A fool of thee. Depart.
Apem. I love thee better now than e'er I did.
Tim. I hate thee worse.
Apem. Why?
Tim, Thou flatter'st misery.
Apem. I flatter not, but say thou art a caitiff.
Tim. Why dost thou seek me out?
Apem. To vex thee.
Tim. Always a villain's office, or a fool's.
Dost please thyself in't?
Apem. Ay.
Tim. What! a knave too?
Apem. If thou didst put this sour-cold habit
To castigate thy pride, 'twere well; but thou
Dost it enforcedly; thou'dst courtier be again
Wert thou not beggar. Willing misery
Outhves incertain pomp, is crown'd before;
The one is filling still, never complete;
The other, at high wish: best state, contentless,
Hath a distracted and most wretched being,
Worse than the worst, content.
Thou shouldst desire to die, being miserable.
Tim. Not by his breath that is more mi-
Thou art a slave, whom Fortune's tender arm
With favour never clasp'd, but bred a dog.
Hadst thou, like us from our first swath,
The sweet degrees that this brief world affords
To such as may the passive drudges of it
Freely command, thou wouldst have plung'd
In general riot; melted down thy youth
In different beds of lust; and never learn'd
The icy precepts of respect, but follow'd
The sugar'd game before thee. But myself,
Who had the world as my confectionary,
The mouths, the tongues, the eyes, and hearts of
At duty, more than I could frame employment,
That numberless upon me stuck as leaves
Do on the oak, have with one winter's brush
Fell from their boughs and left me open, bare
For every storm that blows; I, to bear this,
That never knew but better, is some burden:
Thy nature did commence in sufferance, time
Hath made thee hard in't. Why shouldst thou
hate men?
They never flatter'd thee: what hast thou given?
If thou wilt curse, thy father, that poor rag
Must be thy subject, who in spite put stuff
To some she beggar and compounded thee
Poor rogue hereditary. Hence! be gone!
If thou hadst not been born the worst of men,
Thou hadst been a knave and flatterer,
Apem. Art thou proud yet?
Tim. Ay, that I am not thee.
Apem. I, that I was
No prodigal.
Tim. I, that I am one now:
Were all the wealth I have shut up in thee,
I'd give thee leave to hang it Get thee gone.
That the whole life of Athens were in this!
Thus would I eat it. [Eating a root.
Apem. Here; I will mend thy feast.
Tim. First mend my company, take away
Apem. So I shall mend mine own, by the
lack of thine.
Tim. 'Tis not well mended so, it is but
If not, I would it were.
Apem. What wouldst thou have to Athens?
Tim. Thee thither in a whirlwind. If thou
Tell them there I have gold; look, so I have.
Apem. Here is no use for gold.
Tim. The best and truest;
For here it sleeps, and does no hired harm.
Apem. Where liest o' nights, Timon?
Tim. Under that's above me.
Where feed'st thou o' days, Apemantus?
Apem. Where my stomach finds meat; or,
rather, where I eat it.
Tim. Would poison were obedient and knew
my mind!
Apem. Where wouldst thou send it?
Tim. To sauce thy dishes.
Apem. The middle of humanity thou never
knewest, but the extremity of both ends. When
thou wast in thy gilt and thy perfume, they
mocked thee for too much curiosity; in thy
rags thou knowest none, but art despised for
the contrary. There's a medlar for thee; eat it.
Tim. On what I hate I feed not.
Apem. Dost hate a medlar?
Tim. Ay, though it look like thee.
Apem. An thou hadst hated meddlers sooner,
thou shouldst have loved thyself better now.
What man didst thou ever know unthrift that
was beloved after his means?
Tim. Who, without those means thou talkest
of, didst thou ever know beloved?
Apem. Myself.
Tim.. I understand thee; thou hadst some
means to keep a dog.
Apem. What things in the world canst thou
nearest compare to thy flatterers?
Tim. Women nearest; but men, men are the
things themselves. What wouldst thou do with
the world, Apemantus, if it lay in thy power?
Apem. Give it the beasts, to be rid of the
Tim. Wouldst thou have thyself fall in the
confusion of men, and remain a beast with the
Apem. Ay, Timon.
Tim. A beastly ambition, which the gods
grant thee to attain to. If thou wert the lion,
the fox would beguile thee; if thou wert the
lamb, the fox would eat thee; if thou wert the
fox, the lion would suspect thee, when perad-
venture thou wert accused by the ass; if thou
wert the ass, thy dulness would torment thee,
and still thou livedst but as a breakfast to the
wolf; if thou wert the wolf, thy greediness
would afflict thee, and oft thou shouldst hazard
thy life for thy dinner; wert thou the unicorn,
pride and wrath would confound thee and make
thine own self the conquest of thy fury; wert
thou a bear, thou wouldst be killed by the
horse; wert thou a horse, thou wouldst be
seized by the leopard; wert thou a leopard,
thou wert german to the lion, and the spots of
thy kindred were jurors on thy life; all thy
safety were remotion, and thy defence absence.
What beast couldst thou be, that were not
subject to a beast? and what a beast art thou
already, that seest not thy loss in transforma-
Apem. If thou couldst please me with speak-
ing to me, thou mightst have hit upon it here;
the commonwealth of Athens is become a forest
of beasts.
Tim. How has the ass broke the wall, that
thou art out of the city?
Apem. Yonder comes a poet and a painter:
the plague of company light upon thee! I will
fear to catch it, and give way. When I know
not what else to do, I'll see thee again.
Tim. When there is nothing living but thee,
thou shalt be welcome. I had rather be a beg-
gar's dog than Apemantus.
Apem. Thou art the cap of all the fools alive.
Tim. Would thou wert clean enough to spit
Apem. A plague on thee! thou art too bad
to curse!
Tim. All villains that do stand by thee are
Apem. There is no leprosy but what thou
Tim. If I name thee.
I'll beat thee, but I should infect my hands.
Apem. I would my tongue could rot them off!
Tim. Away, thou issue of a mangy dog!
Choler does kill me that thou art alive;
I swound to see thee.
Apem. Would thou wouldst burst!
Tim. Away,
Thou tedious rogue! I am sorry I shall lose
A stone by thee. [Throws a stone at him.
Apem. Beast!
Tim. Slave!
Apem. Toad!
Tim. Rogue, rogue, rogue!
I am sick of this false world, and will love
But even the mere necessities upon 't.
Then, Timon, presently prepare thy grave;
Lie where the light foam of the sea may beat
Thy grave-stone daily: make thine epitaph,
That death in me at others' lives may laugh.
[Looking on the gold.
O thou sweet king-killer, and dear divorce
'Twixt natural son and sire! thou bright defiler
Of Hymen's purest bed! thou valiant Mars!
Thou ever young, fresh, lov'd, and delicate wooer,
Whose blush doth thaw the consecrated snow
That lies on Dian's lap! thou visible god,
That solder'st close impossibilities,
And mak'st them kiss! that speak'st with every
To every purpose! O thou touch of hearts!
Think, thy slave man rebels, and by thy virtue
Set them into confounding odds, that beasts
May have the world in empire.
Apem. Would 'twere so:
But not till I am dead; I'll say thou'st gold:
Thou wilt be throng'd to shortly.
Tim. Throng'd to?
Apem. Ay.
Tim. Thy back, I prithee.
Apem. Live, and love thy misery!
Tim. Long live so, and so die!
I am quit.
More things like men! Eat, Timon, and abhor

Enter Thieves.
First Thief. Where should he have this gold?
It is some poor fragment, some slender ort of
his remainder. The mere want of gold, and the
falling-from of his friends, drove him into this
Sec. Thief. It is noised he hath a mass of
Third Thief. Let us make the assay upon
him: if he care not for't, he will supply us
easily; if he covetously reserve it, how shall's
get it?
Sec. Thief. True; for he bears it not about
him, 'tis hid.
First Thief. Is not this he?
Thieves. Where?
Sec. Thief. 'Tis his description.
Third Thief. He; I know him.
All. Save thee, Timon.
Tim. Now, thieves?
All. Soldiers, not thieves.
Tim. Both too; and women's sons.
Thieves. We are not thieves, but men that
much do want.
Tim. Your greatest want is, you want much
of meat.
Why should you want? Behold, the earth hath
Within this mile break forth a hundred springs;
The oaks bear mast, the briers scarlet hips;
The bounteous housewife, nature, on each bush
Lays her full mess before you. Want! why
First Thief. We cannot live on grass, on
berries, water,
As beasts, and birds, and fishes.
Tim. Nor on the beasts themselves, the birds,
and fishes;
You must eat men. Yet thanks I must you con
That you are thieves profess'd, that you work
In holier shapes; for there is boundless theft
In limited professions. Rascal thieves,
Here's gold. Go, suck the subtle blood o' the
Till the high fever seethe your blood to froth,
And so 'scape hanging: trust not the physician;
His antidotes are poison, and he slays
More than you rob: take wealth and lives to-
Do villany, do, since you protest to do't,
Like workmen. I'll example you with thievery:
The sun's a thief, and with his great attraction
Robs the vast sea; the moon's an arrant thief,
And her pale fire she snatches from the sun;
The sea's a thief, whose liquid surge resolves
The moon into salt tears; the earth's a thief,
That feeds and breeds by a composture stolen
From general excrement, each thing's a thief;
The laws, your curb and whip, in their rough
Have uncheck'd theft. Love not yourselves;
Rob one another. There's more gold: cut
All that you meet are thieves. To Athens go,
Break open shops; nothing can you steal
But thieves do lose it: steal no less for this
I give you; and gold confound you howsoe'er!
Third Thief. He has almost charmed me
from my profession, by persuading me to it.
First Thief. 'Tis in the malice of mankind
that he thus advises us; not to have us thrive in
our mystery.
Sec. Thief. I'll believe him as an enemy, and
give over my trade.
First Thief. Let us first see peace in Athens;
there is no time so miserable but a man may be
true. [Exeunt Thieves.

Flav. O you gods!
Is yond despised and ruinous man my lord?
Full of decay and failing? O monument
And wonder of good deeds evilly bestow'd!
What an alteration of honour
Has desperate want made!
What viler thing upon the earth than friends
Who can bring noblest minds to basest ends!
How rarely does it meet with this time's guise,
When man was wish'd to love his enemies!
Grant I may ever love, and rather woo
Those that would mischief me than those that
He hath caught me in his eye: I will present
My honest grief unto him; and, as my lord,
Still serve him with my life. My dearest master!
TIMON comes forward.
Tim. Away! what art thou?
Flav. Have you forgot me, sir?
Tim. Why dost ask that? I have forgot all
Then, if thou grant'st thou'rt a man, I have
forgot thee.
Flav. An honest poor servant of yours.
Tim. Then I know thee not:
I never had an honest man about me; ay all
I kept were knaves, to serve in meat to villains.
Flav. The gods are witness,
Ne'er did poor steward wear a truer grief
For his undone lord than mine eyes for you.
Tim. What! dost thou weep? Come nearer.
Then I love thee,
Because thou art a woman, and disclaim'st
Flinty mankind; whose eyes do never give,
But thorough lust and laughter. Pity's sleeping:
Strange times, that weep with laughing, not with
Flav. I beg of you to know me, good my lord,
To accept my grief and whilst this poor wealth
To entertain me as your steward still.
Tim. Had I a steward
So true, so just, and now so comfortable?
It almost turns my dangerous nature mild.
Let me behold thy face. Surely, this man
Was born of woman.
Forgive my general and exceptless rashness,
You perpetual-sober gods! I do proclaim
One honest man, mistake me not, but one;
No more, I pray, and he's a steward.
How fain would I have hated all mankind!
And thou redeem'st thyself: but all, save thee,
I fell with curses.
Methinks thou art more honest now than wise;
For, by oppressing and betraying me, 512
Thou mightst have sooner got another service:
For many so arrive at second masters
Upon their first lord's neck. But tell me true,—
For I must ever doubt, though ne'er so sure,—
Is not thy kindness subtle, covetous,
If not a usuring kindness and as rich men deal
Expecting in return twenty for one?
Flav. No, my most worthy master; in whose
Doubt and suspect, alas! are plac'd too late.
You should have fear'd false times when you did
Suspect still comes when an estate is least.
That which I show, heaven knows, is merely love,
Duty and zeal to your unmatched mind,
Care of your food and living; and, believe it,
My most honour'd lord,
For any benefit that points to me,
Either in hope, or present, I'd exchange
For this one wish, that you had power and wealth
To requite me by making rich yourself.
Tim. Look thee, 'tis so. Thou singly honest
Here, take: the gods out of my misery,
Have sent thee treasure. Go, live rich and
But thus condition'd: thou shalt build from
Hate all, curse all, show charity to none,
But let the famish'd flesh slide from the bone,
Ere thou relieve the beggar; give to dogs
What thou deny'st to men; let prisons swallow
Debts wither 'em to nothing; be men like
blasted woods,
And may diseases lick up their false bloods!
And so, farewell and thrive.
Flav. O! let me stay
And comfort you, my master.
Tim. If thou hatest
Curses, stay not; fly, whilst thou'rt bless'd and
Ne'er see thou man, and let me ne'er see thee.
[Exeunt, severally.
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