Shakespeare For White Trash: Timon of Athens

May 30, 2012

 (Index to the Series appears on Oct. 7, 2010 — )

Main Characters

Timon — rich lord of Athens





Lucilius, Flaminius, Servilius — servants of Timon  (Note: another servant with a significant speaking part is unnamed.)

Flavius — Timon’s steward 

Old Athenian

Apemantus — churlish philosopher

Alcibiades –Athenian captain  (Historically, a general of Athens in the Peloponnesian War)

Ventidius — friend of Timon

Lucius, Lucullus, Sempronius — lords

Five Ladies (as Amazons)

Cupid (boy dressed as Cupid)



Caphis — senator’s servant

Servants of Varro, Isidore, Titus, Lucius, Hortensius, and Philotus



Three Strangers

Phrynia and Timandra — mistresses of Alcibiades

Three Bandits

Soldier of Alcibiades

Gist of the story: Timon is a rich lord of Athens, whose generosity is out of control.  He realizes too late that he is broke and deeply in debt.  But when he seeks help from his flattering friends who benefited from his generosity, they all turn him down.  He is so unhinged by this betrayal that he leaves Athens and goes to live in a cave.  He is down on the whole human race.  In a subplot, Alcibiades, a young captain and friend of Timon, gets into an argument with some senators and gets himself banished.  Timon discovers gold on the land where he is living and decides it is only good for corrupting others.  He gives some to Alcibiades and urges him to destroy Athens.  Alcibiades is out for revenge against the senate but doesn’t want to kill everyone.  When he threatens to attack Athens, the senators try to make peace with Timon and Alcibiades.  Timon rejects them and predicts his own death.  When Alcibiades sends a soldier to him, he learns Timon has died.  The senators express remorse for the mistreatment of both Timon and Alcibiades and beg Alcibiades to take revenge only on the guilty.  Alcibiades agrees.

(Timon of Athens was never finished.  Shakespeare left us what appears to be a first draft.  Also, a second writer almost certainly wrote parts of it.  For scholars it is a textual headache, and for our non-literary audience it would be an impossible read.  The play was apparently never performed in Shakespeare’s lifetime and perhaps has never been performed as it was originally written.  Other writers have “finished” it for the purpose of stage performance.  But even so, it has had a very limited performance history.  The only historical figure is Alcibiades, who was a prominent general in the Peloponnesian War [431 – 404 B.C.], but his appearance in the play is not based on historical events.  Shakespeare probably liked him and decided he was a suitable character to punish a decadent Athens.  Shakespeare doesn’t tell us how Timon died or who buried him, which is proof enough that the play was never finished.  I have tweaked the ending to deal with this.  Despite its difficulties, Timon of Athens has a good story that our non-literary audience will like.  Our intention has been to give it a modern restyling and thereby to bring this obscure play out of the shadows and let it shine for a new generation of admirers.  This is the first modernized version of Timon of Athens ever published.)

Act 1, Scene 1.  A hall in Timon’s house in Athens.  A Poet, Painter, Jeweller, and Merchant meet, coming in from different doors.  The Painter is carrying a picture, and the Poet is carrying a manuscript.  [Author’s note: Some texts include a Mercer, but he is deleted here.]

Poet: Painter, how are you?

Painter: My friend the poet.  I’m fine.  You’re looking well.

Poet: So how goes the world?

Painter: It’s getting old and tired.

Poet: That’s what everyone says.  But where there’s money, there’s life.

Painter: Can’t argue with that.  The merchant agrees with me–don’t you?

Merchant: I do indeed.  And there’s plenty of both in Timon’s house–eh, jeweller?

Jeweller: That’s why I’m here.  I’ve brought him this jewel.

Merchant: Let’s see it.

    (The Jeweller shows off the jewel.)

Merchant: Is that a gift, then?

Jeweller: Well–yes and no.  He’ll pay me for it, of course.  But it’s a gift in the sense that I’m bringing it to him instead of somebody else.

Merchant: Because he’s the most generous man in Athens.

Jeweller: Exactly.

Poet (Reciting):

    When we are paid to praise the vile,
    Then who will pay us when we praise
    With our most honest phrase
    That which is worthwhile?

Painter: That’s the arts in a nutshell.  Do you have a new book for Timon?

Poet: Of course.  He’s my patron.  Do you have a picture for him?

Painter: Yes.  Have a look.

    (The Painter shows off his picture.)

Painter: Not bad, eh?

Poet: Excellent.  It looks just like him.

Painter: It’s not my best work, but it’s pretty good.

Poet: I like the facial expression–and the gesture.  It seems to be saying a lot–although I’m not sure what.

Painter: He’ll like it.  That’s all that matters.

    (Several Senators pass across the stage, talking happily amongst themselves.)

Painter: VIP’s.

Poet: Senators of Athens.  You see what prestigious company Timon keeps?

Painter: Yes, indeed.  So what is your book about?

Poet: It’s about a man that everyone loves and wants to be close to.  Not anyone in particular, of course.

Painter: Uh-huh.  And what happens?

Poet: Well, it’s like this.  Consider the way everyone wants to be Timon’s friend.  He’s rich, so people flatter him, right?

Painter (Somewhat embarrassed): Well–

Poet: Not Apemantus, of course.  He’s an exception.  He’s such a grouch he doesn’t speak nicely to anyone.  But Timon loves him anyway.

Painter: Never mind.  Get back to the story.

Poet: Right.  Okay.  Now, you see, there’s a beautiful high hill.  And on top of the hill is the goddess of Fortune.  And everyone is looking up to her, hoping to be called.  And she looks down and beckons to one man–someone just like Timon.  And he is raised high above all the other hopefuls.

Painter: Yeah.  People like us.

Poet: Don’t interrupt.  Now–the others–they see that he’s been chosen, so they follow at his heels, whispering in his ear–“I’m your friend.  I’m your friend.  Don’t forget me.”–And he’s such a generous fellow, he says, “Yes, yes, come along.”  And they all benefit from his good fortune.

Painter: And what happens next?

Poet: Well!–Here’s what.–Fortune changes her mind.  She’s no longer interested in the chosen one.  So she throws him down the hill.  And no one who followed him up reaches out to save him on the way down.

Painter: Yes, Fortune is like that.  It’s an old moral theme.  There are a thousand paintings about it.  But it sounds like a good book.  Timon will like it.

    (Trumpets sound.  Timon comes in, trying to converse with a Messenger from Ventidius while several hangers-on are asking for favours.  Timon is politely acknowledging them.  Following are Lucilius and other Servants.)

Timon (To the Messenger): In prison, you say?  He’s in prison?

Messenger: Yes, my lord.  He owes five talents and he can’t pay.  His creditors are being very tough about it.  (Author’s note: One talent equals about $1,200.]

Timon: My poor friend Ventidius!–Well, I’m not going to let him rot in a debtor’s prison.  You go and tell him I’ll pay his debt for him.  And have him come and see me when he gets out.  He may be needing some additional help.

Messenger: May the gods bless you for you kindness, sir!

    (The Messenger bows and leaves.  Then an Old Athenian comes in.)

Old Ath: My good lord Timon, I must speak to you.

Timon: Of course, sir.  What can I do for you?

Old Ath: You have a servant named Lucilius.

Timon: Yes.  (He beckons to Lucilius.)–Lucilius.

    (Lucilius joins them.)

Old Ath: My lord, this servant of yours has been coming to my house at night to visit my daughter.

Timon: Oh?

Old Ath: Yes.  She’s the only daughter I’ve got, and I certainly have no intention of giving her away to a–a common servant, if you don’t mind my saying so, sir.  I’ve told him to stay away, but he won’t listen.  So it’s up to you to keep him away from my daughter.

Timon: Oh–but Lucilius is an honest fellow.

Old Ath: He may be honest, but that won’t support a wife–at least, not my daughter.

Timon: Does she love him?

Old Ath: Yes, but she’s young and inexperienced.  She doesn’t think sensibly about her future.

Timon (To Lucilius): Do you love the girl?

Lucilius: Yes, my lord.  And she loves me.

Old Ath: If she marries this fellow, I’ll disinherit her.  I’ll throw her out.

Timon: Well, hold on a minute.  What sort of dowry were you intending for her?

Old Ath: Three talents for now, and later she inherits everything.

Timon: Hmm–Suppose I were to match that out of my own funds?

Old Ath: Oh!–Well–in that case, I would have no objection.

Timon: He’s been a good servant.  He deserves to be happy.  I’ll match your daughter’s dowry.

Old Ath: Every servant should have such a generous master.  Sir, we have a deal.

   (The two men shake hands.) 

Lucilius: Thank you, my lord, from the bottom of my heart.  May my fortune in life always depend on you.

    (Lucilius leaves with the Old Athenian.)

Poet: My lord, the book I have worked on for such a long time is finished.  May it please you.

Timon: Excellent.  I’ll look at it later.  Stick around.–Painter, what have you got?

Painter: A fine picture for you, my lord.  My best work.   May it please you.

Timon (Taking a quick look): Very good.  You’ll stay for dinner.–You, too, jeweller–and the merchant.

Jeweller: I hope you like this, sir (Showing the jewel).

Timon: It is not as praised.

Jeweller: What?  Is it worse?

Timon: No, better.  If I paid you a seller’s price, it would cost me a fortune.

Jeweller: Ah, but it becomes more valuable the moment you wear it.

Timon: Ha, ha–well said!

    (Apemantus comes in.)

Timon: Look who’s here–Apemantus.  Prepare to be scolded, everyone.

Jeweller: We’ll bear it.

Merchant: I’ll grit my teeth.

Timon: Good day to you, gentle Apemantus!

Apem: You’ll have a good-day from me when I am gentle–and when you’ve become your dog, and when these thieves become honest.

Timon: How can you call them thieves?  You don’t even know them.

Apem: They’re Athenians, aren’t they?

Timon: Of course.

Apem: Then they’re thieves.

Jeweller: Hey, do you know me?

Apem: Yes.  You’re a thief.

Timon: Tsk!–Are you proud, Apemantus?

Apem: Yes–proud that I’m not like you.

Timon: Oh!–Ha, ha!–Where are you going?

Apem: To find an honest Athenian and beat his brains out.

Timon: That would be a crime.

Apem: Only if I find one.

Timon: How do you like this picture the painter did?

Apem: As bad art goes, it’s excellent.

Timon: You don’t think it’s good?

Apem: It sucks–like the one who made it.

Painter: You dog!

Apem: Your mother’s the same breed as me.

Timon: Will you eat with us?

Apem: I will neither eat nor be eaten.

Timon: How do you like this jewel?

Apem: I’m sure it’s rare–but not as rare as an honest man in Athens.

Timon: What do you think it’s worth?

Apem: Whatever the seller can get for it.

Poet (To the others): He thinks he’s a philosopher.

Apem: You’re a liar.

Poet: Aren’t you a philosopher?

Apem: Yes.

Poet: Then I’m not a liar.

Apem: Aren’t you a poet?

Poet: Yes.

Apem: Then you’re a liar.  In your last work you pretended Timon was a worthy man.

Poet: I wasn’t pretending.  It’s true.

Apem: Oh, yes, he’s worthy of the likes of you.  The one who loves to be flattered is worthy of his flatterers.

    [Author’s note: The joke about having no angry wit to be a lord has been deleted because nobody has ever been able to figure it out.]

Apem. (To the Merchant): Aren’t you a merchant?

Merchant: Yes.

Apem: May your business ruin you, if the gods don’t ruin you first.

Merchant: The gods decide how my business goes.

Apem: Business is your god, and may it ruin you.

    (A trumpet is heard.  A Messenger comes in.)

Timon: Whose trumpet is that?

Messenger: Alcibiades and twenty of his men, sir.

Timon: Wonderful!  (To the others)  Alcibiades is here!

    (Alcibiades comes in with several of his men.)

Alcib: Timon!  You’re a sight for sore eyes!

Apem. (Aside cynically): Fuck me.

Timon: You’re just in time for dinner, Alcibiades!–Let’s all go to dinner!  Come on, everyone!

    (Everyone leaves except Apemantus.  He does a sour-faced pantomime mocking courtly manners and the Painter, Poet, and Jeweller.  This is interrupted by the entrance of two Lords.)

1st Lord: What time is it, Apemantus?

Apem: Time to tell the truth.  You’re either too early or too late.

2nd Lord: Are you not going to dinner?

Apem: Only to watch scoundrels devour flesh and idiots get drunk on wine.

2nd Lord: Farewell, farewell.

Apem: I don’t need two farewells.  Keep one for yourself.

1st Lord: Fuck off.

Apem: Tell your friend.

2nd Lord: You son of a bitch.

Apem: I’ve already been called a dog today, so I don’t care.

    (Apemantus leaves.)

1st Lord: What a misanthrope.–Shall we go eat?  Timon always puts on a good feast.

2nd Lord: He’s generous, all right.  If you give him a gift, he’ll give you a much bigger one in return.

1st Lord: Now that’s nobility.

2nd Lord: And may he never run out of it.

1st Lord: Never.

    (They leave.) 

Act 1, Scene 2.  A banquet room in Timon’s house.  The sound of oboes.  Coming in are Timon, Senators, Lords, Ventidius, Alcibiades, Flavius (the Steward), and Servants.  Apemantus follows them, keeping apart.

Vent: Lord Timon, my father passed away and left me a lot of money, so I can repay you the five talents you loaned me to get me out of jail.  And I thank you again for your great kindness.

Timon: No, no, no, Ventidius.  Keep the money.  There’s no kindness in lending to be repaid later, only in giving freely.

Vent: Sir, you have a noble spirit.

    (Everyone stands ceremoniously to show respect to Timon.  He smiles with embarrassment.)

Timon: Oh, please, my friends, you’re not here to show me any ceremony.  You’re here because you’re my friends, and I love you, and I want you to have a good time.  Whatever’s mine is yours.  Please sit.

    (They all sit at a large table, but Apemantus remains apart, looking aloof.  On one side is a small table for one person.)

Timon: Apemantus, what are you standing there for?  You’re welcome, too.

Apem: Don’t welcome me.  You should throw me out instead.

Timon (To the others): Don’t mind him.  He’s like that.  (To Apemantus) All right, if you insist on being a grouch, sit by yourself.

    (Timon signals to a Servant to lead Apemantus to the isolated table.)

Apem: I’ll stay, but only to observe–and say what I think.

Timon: You can say what you like.  I’ll ignore you.  Besides, you won’t be able to speak if your mouth is full.

Apem: Your meat is for flatterers.  I would choke on it.

    (Timon gives him a dismissive gesture.  All the guests eat and drink.  Apemantus sits sullenly, accepting only water and a radish.)

Apem (Saying grace): Gods above, give me nothing material.  Make sure I never trust any man’s promise, or any woman who cries, or any sleeping dog, or anyone who has power over me, or any so-called friends if I am ever in need.  Amen.–Water and a radish–that’s all I need.

    (Apemantus watches contemptuously as the other guests eat and drink.)

Timon: Captain Alcibiades, I suppose your heart is out on some battlefield.

Alcib: My mind may be on a battlefield, but my heart is always at your service.

Timon: You’d probably prefer to make a breakfast of your enemies than have dinner with your friends.

Alcib:  If my enemies were dead and bloody, I’d enjoy that the most.

Apem. (Aside): You ought to murder all these flattering bastards.

1st Lord: My lord Timon, you should give us a chance to show you how much we love you.

Timon: But you’re already doing that right now, just by being here.  The only benefit I ever want is just to have you as friends.  What greater riches could any man ask for?  After all, why are we on earth?  To give to others.  (He raises his cup.) I drink to you all!

    (They all raise their cups.  Cheering and laughter.)

2nd Lord: My lord, the same selfless feeling of love springs from our hearts like a new baby sprung from the womb.

Apem. (Aside): Except that it’s illegitimate.

    (A trumpet sounds.  A Servant enters.)

Servant: My lord, there are some ladies here to see you.  They have sent a spokesman to greet you in their behalf.

Timon: Wonderful!  Let them in.

    (The Servant beckons, and Cupid comes in [a boy dressed as Cupid].)

Cupid: Hail to thee, gracious Timon, and to all your friends!  The five senses regard you as their patron, and they come to pay tribute to you!

Timon: Ha, ha!–They are welcome!

    (Cupid goes out.  Lute music is heard.  Cupid returns with five Ladies dressed as Amazons, playing lutes and dancing.)

Apem. (Aside): What a crock of shit.

    (The Lords rise from the table and dance with the Amazons until the music stops.)

Timon (Clapping): Wonderful!  Wonderful!  You ladies have made this feast twice as delightful.  I thank you.

1st Lady: My lord, we show you our best.

Apem. (Aside): If you showed us your worst, I’d throw up. 

Timon: There’s food in the other room, where you can sit down.  Go and help yourselves.

Ladies: Thank you, my lord.

    (Cupid and the Ladies go out.)

Timon: Flavius!

Flavius: Yes, my lord.

Timon: Bring me the jewel box.

Flavius: Yes, my lord.

    (As Flavius turns to leave, he speaks aside.)

Flavius (Aside): More jewels.  He’s going broke, and he doesn’t know it.

    (Flavius goes out frowning.  He returns with the jewel box and gives it to Timon.)

Timon: I have a little surprise for all of you.

    (He starts passing out jewels to his Guests.)

Guests: Oh!–My lord!–You are too kind!–How beautiful!–Thank you!

Timon: It’s nothing.  You honour me by accepting these humble tokens of my love.

    (Apemantus looks disgusted.  Flavius approaches Timon and tries to speak to him discreetly.)

Flavius: My lord, if I could just have a word with you about an important matter–concerning yourself.

Timon: It can wait.

    (A Servant comes in.)

Servant: My lord, your friend Lord Lucius has sent you four white horses with silver trappings as a gift.

Timon: Has he now?  Well, I’m happy to accept them, but he’ll get something from me worth even more.

    (Another Servant comes in.)

2nd Serv: My lord, your friend Lord Lucullus invites you to go hunting with him tomorrow, and he sends you four greyhounds as a gift.

Timon: Fine.  I’ll be glad to go hunting with him, and he’ll get something from me to match those greyhounds and then some–ha!

Flavius (Aside to the audience): He’s broke.  All the gifts he’s giving away are putting him in debt.  His lands are already mortgaged, and he’s paying interest on that.  All these friends of his have sucked him dry.

Lords: You are so generous, my lord.

Timon: The more I give, the richer I feel.  I could give away kingdoms and be happier for it.

A Lord: Here’s to Timon!

    (They all raise their cups to Timon and cheer.)

A Lord (To his Servant): Get our horses.  (The Servant goes out.)–We must leave now, my lord.  We wish you long life and happiness, and may you always be prosperous.

Guests (Banging the table): Hear! Hear!

    (The Guests rise, and Timon sees them out.)

Apem. (Aside but a little too loud): What a bunch of leeches.  And what a waste of money.

Timon: Still in a grouchy mood, Apemantus?  You know, if you weren’t so anti-social, I’d give you something, too.

Apem: Oh, no.  Spare me.  I want to feel free to criticize you.  I mean, what’s the bloody point of all these feasts and gifts?  You’re going to end up in debt.

Timon: You’re such a cynic.  Come back when you’re in a better mood.

    (Timon leaves.)

Act 2, Scene 1.  A room in a Senator’s house.  As the curtain goes up, we find the Senator at a table or desk looking at papers.

Senator: Another five thousand crowns.  And he owes nine thousand to Varro and Isidore.  And add in what he owes me–that’s twenty-five thousand.–Hell, if you gave him a stray cat, he’d give you back its weight in gold.  It’s crazy.  There’s no way he can keep this up.–Caphis!  Ho!

    (The servant Caphis comes in.)

Caphis: Yes, Senator.

Senator: I want you to go to Timon and ask for the repayment of my loan.  And don’t let him put you off.  I need that money.  Hell, I have my own debts to pay.  Don’t take no for an answer.

Caphis: Yes, sir.  I’ll go now.

    (Caphis leaves.) 

Act 2, Scene 2.  [Author’s note: This scene takes place either outside of Timon’s house or inside, depending on which edition you’re reading.  For me, it makes more sense outside.]  Flavius comes in with many bills in his hand.

Flavius: He just won’t listen.  Every time I try to talk to him about money, he puts me off.  I’ve got to make him understand he’s in deep trouble.

    (Flavius goes out.  Caphis and the Servants of Varro and Isidore come in.  [Caution to the reader: Servants may address each other by the names of their masters.  This is what you have in the original.])

Caphis: Varro, are you here to collect money?

Var. Serv: Yes.  Aren’t you?

Caphis: Yes.–Isidore?

Isid. Serv: What else?

Caphis: I just hope he can pay us all.–Here he comes.

    (Timon comes in with Alcibiades, Lords, and Attendants.)

Timon: That was good hunting.  Let’s go out again after dinner.

Caphis: Excuse me, my lord.  I have a note here from my master requesting money–repayment, that is.

Timon: Eh?  Well, go see my steward, Flavius.  He takes care of that sort of thing.

Caphis: I’ve already been to see Flavius several times.  He keeps saying come back later.  Now, sir, my master’s got obligations of his own to meet, and he asks you humbly to repay the money you owe him.

Var. Serv: My master, too, sir.  I come from Varro.

Isid. Serv: And mine, sir.  Isidore asks for repayment.

Var. Serv: It’s past due, sir.

Isid. Serv: Yes, sir, mine, too.

Caphis: My master must be paid today, sir.

Timon: Okay, take it easy.  I don’t know what the details are.  My steward handles all the bills.  But I’ll take care of it.  (To Alcibiades and the rest of the party) I’m sorry.  We’ll have to cut things short for today.

Alcibiades: Yes, yes, it’s all right.–Come on, everyone.

    (Alcibiades leaves with his party.)

Timon (Calling): Flavius!

    (Flavius comes in.)

Flavius: Yes, my lord.

Timon: What’s going on here?

Flavius: A matter of accounts, sir.  (To the Servants)  I told you guys to quit bugging me.  Let Lord Timon have his dinner and then we’ll get everything taken care of.

Timon: Yes, yes.  After dinner.  (To Flavius)  I’ll deal with it later.

    (Timon leaves.)

Flavius: Do you want to sit in the yard or something?

Caphis (Seeing someone offstage): Em–no.  That’s all right.  We’ll stay here.

Flavius: Suit yourselves.

    (Flavius leaves.)

Caphis: It’s Apemantus and the fool.  We’ll have some fun with them.

    (Apemantus and the Fool come in.)

Var. Serv: Hang this fool!

Isid. Serv: A plague upon him!

Apem: Are you speaking to your shadow?

Var. Serv: I wasn’t talking to you.

Apem: No.  To yourself.  (To the Fool) These bastards are the servants of loan sharks.

Servants: What are we?

Apem: You’re jackasses.

Servants: Why?

Apem: Because you don’t know what you are without asking me.–Eh, fool?  What do you say?

Fool: How do you do, gentlemen.

Caphis: How’s your mistress?

Fool: She’s boiling water to cook you.  Drop by the brothel.

Apem: Ha!

    (A Page comes in.)

Fool: Here’s my mistress’s page.

Page (To the Fool): Hello, captain.–Hello, Apemantus.  Do you have any wise philosophy for me?

Apem: Bend over and I’ll kick your ass.  There’s wisdom in that.

Page: Ha, ha!  You’re so funny.  Here, do me a favour.  Read the addresses on these letters for me.

    (He hands Apemantus the letters.)

Apem: Why?  Can’t you read?

Page: No.

Apem: So much for our school system.–This one’s addressed to Timon–and this one’s addressed to Alcibiades.  (Hands the letters back)  You were born a bastard, and you’ll die a pimp.

Page: That’s progress.  You were raised like a dog and will die like one.  I’m gone.

    (The Page leaves.)

Apem: Gone and already forgotten.–Come, fool, let’s see what Timon’s up to.

Isid. Serv: He’s coming now.

    (Timon and Flavius come in.)

Flavius (To the Servants): Just wait over there, okay?  I’ll speak to you in few minutes.  (The Servants move to the wing, out of sight.  To  Apemantus)  Can we have some privacy?

Apem: Yes, yes. 

    (Apemantus and the Fool leave.)

Timon: Why didn’t you tell me I was going broke?

Flavius: I tried to, sir, but you wouldn’t listen.

Timon: Oh, you didn’t try, or I would’ve listened.

Flavius: That’s not true, sir.  Plenty of times I brought you your accounts, and you always brushed them aside.

Timon: I’m not good with paperwork.  You know that.  You’re much better with money than I am.

Flavius: Yes, sir.  And every time you told me to send somebody an expensive present–after they sent you a cheap one–I felt like screaming because I had to scrape up the money somehow.  And when I tried to explain things to you very politely, you always put up a wall and refused to listen.  Now, sir, I have to tell you straight.  You’re deeply in debt, and all your assets don’t even cover half of what you owe.

Timon: Oh–pfff!– Mortgage my lands if you have to.

Flavius: They’re already mortgaged, and some you’ve already forfeited.

Timon: What!

Flavius: And you’re paying interest on all that debt, and now you can’t even keep up with that.

Timon: But my lands extend all the way to Lacedaemon.

Flavius: It doesn’t matter.  If you owned half the western hemisphere, you’d have given it away by now.

Timon: You know I don’t think the way you do.  I don’t even like to think about money.

Flavius: I know that, sir.  And every time you threw a feast and gave away expensive gifts, I wanted to go off somewhere and throw up.

Timon: Please, I don’t want to hear any more.

Flavius: You have to hear it all, sir.  All those people who praise you and flatter you–“Noble Timon!”–“Worthy Timon!”–“Royal Timon!”–What are they going to say when they know you’re broke?  Do you think they’ll still be your friends?

Timon: Of course.  I never gave to others to buy their friendship.  I gave sincerely–from the heart.–Perhaps I was a little unwise.  But my friends are still my friends.  If I ask for help now, they’ll all help me.  You’ll see.

Flavius: You think because you’re generous, others must be, too?

Timon: Flavius, I appreciate the fact that you try to watch out for me.  But you’re exaggerating this whole business.  It’s a minor inconvenience.  Entirely temporary.  Everyone knows me.  My credit is good.

Flavius: Used to be.  Not any more.  I’ve been borrowing discreetly in your behalf trying to keep up with your spending.  That’s why those guys are here demanding money.  And everyone charges interest.  It’s strictly business to the lenders.  But you’ve finally hit a brick wall.  You’re a bad risk, and now everyone wants to be paid.

Timon: Don’t worry.  As long as I have my friends, I’m not in any trouble.  (Calling)  Flaminius!–Servilius!

    (Flaminius, Servilius, and an unnamed Servant come in.)

Servants: Yes, my lord?

Timon: I’m sending you on errands.–(To Servilius) You go to Lord Lucius.–(To Flaminius) You go to Lord Lucullus.–(To unnamed Servant) And you go to Sempronius.–Give them my kindest greetings and tell them I need a loan.–Em, perhaps fifty talents–or whatever they can manage on short notice.

Servants: Yes, my lord.

Flavius (Aside, cynically): Good luck.

    (The Servants leave.)

Timon: And I’ll send someone to the senators, too.  I’m sure they’ll help me out.

Flavius: Sir, I anticipated this.  I already asked your so-called friends for a loan of money. 

Timon: You did?

Flavius: Yes.  And they all said no.

Timon: What!

Flavius: They all gave excuses.–“Oh, I would if I could, but I can’t.”–“Business is slow.”–“I have no cash.  It’s all tied up.”–“Maybe in a few months.”

Timon: I can’t believe this!  My friends?

Flavius: But they were full of sympathy.–“Tell him I’ll pray for him.”–“It’s so unfair that he’s in a jam.”–“I feel for him.”–“I’m so sorry.”

Timon: Then to hell with them!  (Thinking)  Wait a minute–Ventidius will come through for me.  (Calling)  Servant!–He has money.  He was going to repay me the five talents, remember.

    (A Servant comes in.)

Servant: Yes, sir?

Timon: Go to Ventidius.  Say that I send him my friendliest greetings–and I will need those five talents after all because I’m in a bit of a bind.

Servant: Yes, my lord.

    (The Servant leaves.)

Timon: When I get those five talents, you can pay off those fellows who came today.  That’ll do for now.  You’ll see, Flavius.  Everything will be all right.

Flavius: I pray that you’re right, sir.

    (They leave.) 

Act 3, Scene 1.  A room in Lucullus’s house.  Flaminius is waiting.  He is holding a box for money or valuables.  A Servant comes in.

Servant: Lord Lucullus will be right down.

Flaminius: Thank you.

    (The Servant leaves.  Then Lucullus comes in.)

Lucullus: Hello, there!  I remember you–Flaminius, right?

Flaminius: Yes, my lord.  I am sent by Lord Timon.

Lucullus: Oh, that’s nice.  And how is he?

Flaminius: He is well, my lord.

Lucullus: Splendid.  Glad to hear it.–I see you have a box there.  Has Lord Timon sent me a present?

Flaminius: Em–no–Actually, the box is empty.  My lord Timon is in need of a loan.  He needs fifty talents.  He was hoping you could help him out and fill this box.

Lucullus: Ah.–He’s a good man, that Timon.  I always said so.  But too lavish.  Every time he would invite me to dinner, I tried to warn him.–“Watch your expenses.”–But he always ignored my advice.

Flaminius: He has been quite lavish, sir.  There’s no denying it.

Lucullus: Indeed.  So you agree.  You’re  a wise fellow.  You’ve got a good head on your shoulders.  You’re sensible.  I like that.

Flaminius: Thank you, sir.

Lucullus: I know you’re doing your duty as a good servant to come to me like this, but seriously, you understand that this is no time to be lending money just on friendship.–I mean, with no collateral?  You see my point, don’t you?

Flaminius: Yes, sir.

Lucullus: You’re a good man, Flaminius.  (Lucullus gives him a few coins.)  Here’s a few shillings for you.  Now you go back to Timon and tell him you weren’t able to see me, okay?

    (Flaminius looks at the coins and then at Lucullus with contempt.)

Flaminius: Keep your money, sir.

    (He drops the coins.)

Lucullus: You’re a fool–just like your boss.  Begone!

Flaminius: What a phony you are.  What a hypocrite.  After all the food and wine you’ve swallowed at Timon’s table.  Shame on you, sir!

    (Flaminius leaves.)

Act 3, Scene 2.  A street in Athens.  Lucius comes in with three Strangers.

Lucius: Timon?  Yes, of course, I know him.  He’s a good friend and an honourable gentleman.

1st Stranger: We don’t know him personally, but we know him by reputation.  And the word is, sir–that Timon is broke.

Lucius: No!  I don’t believe it.

2nd Stranger: You can believe it, sir.  One of his servants went to Lord Lucullus to ask for a loan, and Lucullus turned him down.

Lucius: Did he really?

2nd Stranger: Yes.  Turned him down, he did.

Lucius: I’m very surprised.  It’s shameful.  Absolutely shameful.  You know, I’ve received many small gifts from Timon–money, silver, jewels–little things like that.  Not as much as Lucullus has gotten, but still, if he’d sent to me for a loan, I wouldn’t have turned him down.

    (Servilius comes in.)

Servilius: My lord Lucius, I’m very glad I found you, sir.

Lucius: Ah, Servilius!  How nice to see you.  I was just going.  Say hello to Lord Timon for me.

    (He turns to leave.)

Servilius: Please wait, sir.  Lord Timon sent me.

Lucius: Oh, really?  Oh.  How nice.  Has he sent me a gift?

Servilius: No, sir.  In fact, he is very much in need of a loan–fifty talents, if you could, possibly.

Lucius: Heh, heh–seriously?

Servilius: Oh, yes, sir.

Lucius: Tsk!–Darn.  What bad luck.  You see, just yesterday I committed all my available cash to an investment.  I’m temporarily tapped out.  These men will vouch for it.  (The three Strangers look at each other in puzzlement.)  Please tell Lord Timon how terribly, terribly sorry I am that I’m unable to help him right now.  Bad timing, that’s all.  But please convey to him my sincerest love and respect, and, em–I’m sure everything will work out for him somehow or other.

Servilius: Yes, sir.  I will.  Thank you.

Lucius: I must go.  (To the Strangers)  We’ll take a meeting next week.

    (Lucius leaves as the Strangers share a puzzled look.  Then Servilius leaves in the other direction, looking sad.)

1st Stranger: Some friend, eh?

2nd Stranger: Oh, yeah.  We’ll vouch for it.

1st Stranger: Small gifts–just money, silver, and jewels–little things like that.–Fucking hell.  He’d have no roof over his head if it wasn’t for Timon.  [Author’s note: How would he know if he’s a stranger?  This is a sign of a first draft.]

3rd Stranger: Makes you want to puke, doesn’t it?

1st Stranger: Welcome to Athens.  World-class city, doncha know.  Our slogan: “Business before honour.”

3rd Stranger: Gods, have mercy!

    (They leave.)

Act 3, Scene 3.  The house of Sempronius.  The unnamed Servant of Timon comes in with Sempronius.  They are in the middle of a conversation.

Semp: Why does he have to bother me for money?  Why doesn’t he ask Lucius, or Lucullus, or Ventidius?

Servant: My lord, he’s already asked them, and they all said no.  [Author’s note: Typical Shakespeare glitch, not worth fixing.  Do you see what’s wrong?]

Semp: Really!  So now he calls on me after they turned him down.  So I’m the last resort, is that it?  I’m not good enough for him to come to me first, or even second–even though I was the first person he ever gave a gift to.  It just shows what little regard he has for me.  Really, I’m quite offended.

Servant: My lord Sempronius–

Semp: I have my pride, you know.  If he’d sent to me first, I would’ve been delighted to help him.  Now you go back and tell him that if he ranks me so low among his friends, he doesn’t deserve my help.–Good day, young man.

    (Sempronius walks away.)

Servant: That guy is so wicked he shames the devil.  There’s no one to save Timon now.  He’ll have to lock himself in his house against his creditors.

    (The Servant leaves.)  

Act 3, Scene 4.  A foyer or antechamber in Timon’s house.  When the curtain goes up, we find the Servants of Titus and Varro waiting.  Then the Servants of Lucius and Hortensius arrive.

Luc. Serv: Well, well–looks like a convention of creditors.

Var. Serv: Servant of Lucius, good morning.–And good morning, servant of Hortensius.

Hort. Serv: Man of Varro–man of Titus–good morning.

Titus Serv: Expecting to collect money?

Hort. Serv: I’m going to try.

    (The Servant of Philotus comes in.)

Luc. Serv: Ah, and last but not least, the man of Philotus.

Phil. Serv: Good morning.  Do I take a number and wait to be served?

Others: Ha, ha!

Phil. Serv: Is Timon up yet?

Luc. Serv: We haven’t seen him.

Phil. Serv: It’s almost nine.  He should be up.

Titus Serv: Maybe he’s gone into hibernation to escape his creditors.

Luc. Serv: I wouldn’t be surprised.  I hear he’s flat broke.

Titus Serv: It’s ironic, you know.  All of our masters have gotten plenty of gifts from Timon over the years, and now they’re being totally ruthless about collecting debts from him.

Hort. Serv: I feel embarrassed that I have to do this.

Var. Serv: Varro’s demanding three thousand crowns.

Luc. Serv: Hell, Lucius wants five thousand.

    (Flaminius comes in.)

Titus Serv: Oh!–One of Timon’s men.

Luc. Serv: Flaminius, is Lord Timon up yet?

Flaminius: He’s up, but he’s not ready to present himself.

Titus Serv: We’re all waiting for him.  Our masters sent us to collect debts.  You should tell him.

Flaminius: He doesn’t need to be told.  He knows.

    (Flaminius leaves.  Then Flavius comes in, passing through, concealed under a cloak.)

Luc. Serv: It’s the steward.–Hey, Flavius, hold on!

Other Servants: Flavius!

Flavius: What do you guys want?

Titus Serv: You know what we want–money.  Our masters want to be repaid.

Flavius: Ah–really.  They should have asked when they were stuffing themselves at Timon’s dinner table.  It would have been an education for him.

Luc. Serv: Flavius, come on–

Flavius: Timon’s got no money for your masters–understand? 

Luc. Serv: Well, I’m sorry, but that won’t do.  That’s just not good enough.

Flavius: All your masters are miserable bastards, so fuck off.

    (Flavius leaves.)

Var. Serv: What nerve!

Phil Serv: Never mind.  He hasn’t got a pot to piss in any more, so he has nothing to lose by being rude.

    (Servilius comes in.)

Titus Serv: Servilius!  Where’s Lord Timon?  We’ve got notes to collect.

Servilius: Come back some other time.  He isn’t feeling well.  He’s staying in bed.

Luc. Serv: A likely story.  If he’s that sick, maybe he should pay his debts before he croaks–for the sake of his soul.

Servilius: It’s your masters who should worry about their souls!

    (A commotion is heard within.  Then Timon storms in, followed by Flaminius.)

Timon (Angrily): Must I be a prisoner in my own house?

All the Servants: My bill, sir!–And mine, sir!

Timon: What do you want from me?  An arm?  A leg?  A quart of blood?  Should I cut my heart out?

The Servants: Fifty talents, sir!–Five thousand crowns, sir!–Three thousand crowns, sir!

Timon: Go to hell!

    (Timon leaves, followed by Flaminius.)

Hort. Serv: I have a feeling nobody’s collecting anything today.  There’s no point in hanging around.

    (Mumblings of agreement.  The Servants leave.  Then Timon returns with Flavius.  Timon is calmer.)

Timon: Flavius, I want you to do something.

Flavius: Yes, my lord.

Timon: I want you to invite all my creditors and my so-called friends to dinner.  I’ll give them a feast they’ll never forget.

Flavius: But how can you afford it, sir?

Timon: Don’t worry about that.  I will provide.–Go.

    (They leave separately.)

Act 3, Scene 5.  The Senate House.  Three Senators are standing and conversing.

1st Sen: I agree with you, gentlemen.  I’m going to vote for the death penalty.

2nd Sen: Yes.  We have to be strict.  It’s the law.

    (Alcibiades comes in.)

Alcib: Good morning, Senators.

1st Sen: Captain Alcibiades.

Alcib: My lords, I’ve come to plead for mercy for my soldier.

2nd Sen: But he killed a man.  That’s murder.

Alcib: But he was provoked, and he acted in anger.

1st Sen: That’s no excuse.

Alcib: But he’s a soldier.  A soldier has a sense of honour.  And I can vouch for his courage in battle.

1st Sen: Sometimes the courageous thing is to accept an insult and not react with violence.

2nd Sen: We can’t apply different standards for soldiers and civilians.  The law is the law.

Alcib: But these are the soldiers that you count on to protect you from your enemies.  They keep Athens safe.

2nd Sen: You’re wasting your breath, Captain.

Alcib: Doesn’t his service to the state count for anything?  Doesn’t mine?

1st Sen: Your soldier has a reputation as a hot-head.  His service to the state means nothing.

2nd Sen: He must be put to death.

Alcib: I’ll give you my personal guarantee that he won’t get into any more trouble.  If you feel he owes the state his life, at least let him lose it on the battlefield with honour.

1st Sen: Ha, ha, ha!–Honour!

2ns Sen: Don’t defend a murderer and speak of honour.

3rd Sen: You’re out of line arguing with us, Captain.  And you’re interfering with justice.

Alcib: Fuck your justice, you ungrateful sons of bitches!  Is this what I’ve fought for and bled for all these years?  Do you want to see my scars?

1st Sen: That’s it.  We’re not taking this from you.  You’re banished.

Alcib: Banished?–Me–banished?

1st Sen: Be out of Athens in two days–or suffer the consequences.–Come, gentlemen.

    (The Senators leave.)

Alcib: Fucking senators!–Assholes!–Who did the fighting while they stayed home and counted their money?  I risked my life for them.–Goddamn sons of bitches.–Well, I’ll teach them a lesson.  I’ll round up my men and stick it to this degenerate, evil city.

    (He leaves.)

Act 3, Scene 6.  A banquet room in Timon’s house.  Numerous Lords come in.  [Author’s note: Shakespeare never finished this scene.  The original is a first draft.  The speakers are not specified by name, and there is a stage direction near the end that requires a scene break.  I’ve cut out that last part.  The Lords must include Lucius, Lucullus, and Sempronius.  I am following the original speech prefixes, and the Director can decide who gets which lines.]

1st Lord: I never expected Timon to invite us back for dinner.

2nd Lord: I think he must have been testing us the other day.

1st Lord: Must be.  Otherwise, how could he afford to feed us?

2nd Lord: Right.  But now I’m embarrassed that I turned him down.

1st Lord: Me, too.

3rd Lord: So am I.–Oh, here he comes now.

    (Timon comes in.) 

Timon: I’m so happy to see you, my friends.  How are you today?

Lords: Fine.–Thank you.

1st Lord: Em, about the other day.  I hope you’re not angry.

Timon: No, no, no!  Not in the least.

2nd Lord: It was just bad timing for me.  If you’d sent your man just two hours sooner–

Timon: Don’t even think of it.  Put it out of your minds, all of you.  Please sit down.

    (The Guests sit down.  The Servants come in with covered plates, which they set before the Guests.)

3rd Lord: Oh!  Is this going to be a surprise?

Timon: You bet.  You’ll remember this surprise as long as you live.

1st Lord (To the 3rd Lord): What’s the news about Alcibiades?

3rd Lord: He’s been banished.

Other Lords: No!  Really?

3rd Lord: Yes.  He had an argument with the senators, and they got pissed off.

Timon (Clinking a cup for attention): Let us give thanks to the gods.  For their gifts to us, let them be praised.  But let them not give too much, lest we take them for granted and diminish our praise.  And let us be like them to each other and give only what is deserved.  (His tone becomes less friendly.)  For instance, where the senators of Athens are concerned, let us give them what they deserve for their faults.  And as for my dinner guests, they deserve what I have set before them.–And so, gentlemen, enjoy your dinner.

    (When the dishes are uncovered, they contain stones and warm water.)

Some Lords: Stones?

Other Lords: Warm water!

Timon: May you never have a better meal than this for the rest of your lives–you–villains!

    (He picks up dishes and silverware and throws them at the Guests.)

Timon: Parasites!–Phonies!–Hypocrites!–Bastards!

Lords: He’s mad!–He’s out of his mind!–Let’s get out of here!

    (The Guests flee.)

Timon: And the same to all of Athens!–Rotten, rotten Athens!

    (He leaves.)  

Act 4, Scene 1.  Outside the walls of Athens.  Timon comes in.

Timon: Goodbye, you miserable city of Athens!  Wolves!  Thieves!  Hypocrites!  May your children revolt against their parents!  May the slaves and fools rule!  May all your virgins become whores!  May all debtors cut the throats of their creditors!  May all the servants steal from their masters!  May there be riots and confusion in the streets!  May you be struck by every plague, fever, and infection known to man, until you are reduced to sickly skeletons crawling in the dust!  You sick, corrupt, poisonous city!  I renounce you forever!  I renounce all humanity forever!  I’ll go live in the woods with the beasts–beasts that are better than all of you!  Gods, fill my heart with hatred until the day I die!

    (He leaves.) 

Act 4, Scene 2.  Timon’s house.  Flavius comes in with three Servants.  [Author’s note: Shakespeare doesn’t name them, and I am just following the speech prefixes as given, and the Director can decide who they are.]

1st Serv: But Flavius, what’s to become of us?

Flavius: What can I tell you?  He’s gone, and there’s nothing left.

1st Serv: I can’t believe it.  Such a noble master–ruined.

2nd Serv: Abandoned by his friends–people we served many times in this house.

3rd Serv: Our lord Timon a beggar.–It breaks my heart.  And now we’re doomed to be beggars, too.

Flavius: Well, I have a little money of my own.  Not much, but I’ll share it with you.

    (He takes out his purse and distributes the money.)

Servants: You’re a good man, Flavius.  Thank you.

Flavius: Good luck to you.

    (He embraces them.)

Flavius: For Timon’s sake, if we ever meet again, let’s always be friends–and think of happier times.

Servants: Aye.  We will.

Flavius: I’m going to look for him.  He needs me.

Servants: You do that.  Good luck.

    (Flavius leaves separately from the Servants.)

Act 4, Scene 2.  Timon emerges from a cave.  His physical appearance is different now.

Timon: A plague on humanity!  If I never see another human face as long as I live, that’ll be fine with me.–Now maybe I can find some nice bitter roots for my breakfast.

    (Timon digs in the dirt and is startled.)

Timon: What the–!

    (He bends down and examines closely.)

Timon: Gold?–Is that gold?  (He looks up at the heavens.)  Is this some kind of joke?  Are you trying to corrupt me?  What the hell am I supposed to do with gold–eat it?

    (Drums and marching are heard.  Timon stuffs his pickets with gold nuggets and covers the rest with dirt.  Then Alcibiades comes in, dressed for battle, accompanied by two mistresses, Phrynia and Timandra.)

Alcib: Who are you?  Or what are you?

Timon: A beast, like yourself.

Alcib: What’s your name?

Timon: You can call me Misanthropos.

Alcib: A hater of man–is that what you are?

Timon: Yes.  I hate the sight of all people.  I’d like you better if you were a dog.

    (Alcibiades studies Timon more closely.)

Alcib: What a minute.–You’re Timon!  You know me–Alcibiades.

Timon: Yes, I know you.

Alcib: What’s happened to you?  What are you doing out here?

Timon: Haven’t you heard?  I gave away all my wealth and ended up broke and in debt.  And all my friends deserted me when I needed them.

Alcib: I heard a rumour about that, but I didn’t know whether to believe it.

Timandra (To Alcibiades): Is this that rich Athenian everyone used to talk about?

Alcib: Yes.

Timon: Who are you?

Timandra: Timandra.

Alcib: My, uh, friends.–And this is Phrynia.

Timon: I hope you’re both whores and infect all of Athens with venereal disease.

Timandra: Oh, you rude man!

Alcib: Don’t mind him.  He hates everyone now.  He said so.–Timon, I’m almost broke myself.  My soldiers want to be paid, and I have no money for them.  But if you’re in such bad shape, I’ll give you what little I have.

Timon: Forget it.  I have no use for money any more–certainly not out here.

Alcib: Wait till I’ve conquered Athens.  Then I’ll get you set up like before–

Timon: You’re fighting against Athens?

Alcib: Yes.  The Senate’s been very bad to me, and I intend to get even.

Timon: In that case, I’m going to give you gold.–Here.  (He puts some gold nuggets in Alcibiades’s hands.)

Alcib: Where’d you get this?

Timon: It’s here in the ground.  Now go and punish Athens!  Slaughter them!  Kill everyone!  Even the women and children!  Destroy the whole city!  Show no mercy!

Alcib: Well, I’ll take the gold.  Thanks.  But as for killing and destroying, I wasn’t intending to go quite that far.

Timandra and Phrynia: Give us some gold, Timon.

Timon: Only if you promise to be whores and devote yourselves to corruption.

Timandra and Phrynia: Oh, yes!  Yes!  We will!

    (He gives them gold.)

Timon: This gold will damn you all.  That’s all it’s good for.  But let it damn others first.

Timandra and Phrynia: All right.  Thank you, Timon.

Alcib: Let’s go, girls.–Timon, if things work out for me, I’ll come back and see you.

Timon: I don’t need to see anyone.  I’m through with the human race.  Just take your slut girlfriends and go.

Alcib. (To Timandra and Phrynia): He’s being ornery.–All right, Timon.  Goodbye.

   (Alcibiades, Timandra, and Phrynia leave.)

Timon: I never did find a goddamn root.

    (He digs and finds a root and begins chewing on it.)

Timon: Mmm–bitter.–I like it.

    (Apemantus comes in.)

Timon: More visitors?  Begone!  I’m off humanity!

Apem: I was told some lunatic was hiding in a cave and pretending to act like me, so I had to come and see for myself.

Timon: Go catch a cold.

Apem: What’s the point of hanging around here?  Your ex-friends don’t give a shit.  They’ve already forgotten you.  Why don’t you learn to be a flatterer yourself?  Just suck up to people and you’ll see how nice they are to you.

Timon: Bah!

Apem: You wouldn’t listen to me before, and now look where you are.  I think if you had money again, you’d repeat the same mistakes.  So quit trying to be like me.  It’s a pose.

Timon: If I were like you, I’d throw myself away.

Apem: You have thrown yourself away.  Do you expect to get better treatment from Mother Nature?  Are the squirrels going to flatter you?  Are the birds going to sing for you?  Are the trees going to do you housework?

Timon: Fuck off.

Apem: You know what?  I actually like you better now than I used to.

Timon: So now you flatter me in my misery.

Apem: No, no.  I still think you’re wretched.

Timon: Then why are you here?

Apem: Just to bug you.

Timon: That’s all you’ve ever done.

Apem: You know, if you had come out here to punish yourself for your stupidity, that would be fine.  But you’re just being miserable out of sheer masochism.  So why bother to live at all?

Timon: I wouldn’t expect you to understand.  You started out as nothing, and you’re still nothing.  You didn’t lose anything.  I raised myself to a very high position in life and then lost it all–like that (Snaps his fingers).  I have good reason to hate mankind, but you don’t.  Who ever flattered you?  Nobody.  Be angry with your parents.  They made you what you are.

Apem: Are you through ranting?

Timon: Get lost.  I’m having my breakfast.

    (He chews on his root.)

Apem: What should I tell them back in Athens?

Timon: Tell them I have gold–ha!  (He shows off his gold nuggets.)

Apem: You can’t spend that out here.

Timon: True.  But at least it can’t do me any harm if it stays in the ground.

Apem: You know what your trouble is?  You only know the extremes of human existence–the very top and the very bottom.  The middle part you don’t know at all.  You have no wisdom, just illusions.

Timon: Come back and see me when you’re the only other human being in the world.  Then you’ll be welcome.

Apem: You’re the king of all fools.

Timon: You’re too dirty to be worth spitting on.

Apem: And you’re too cursed already for me to curse you.

Timon: Slave!

Apem: Toad!

    (Timon picks up a gold nugget.)

Timon: Shall I throw this gold at you?  I hate to waste a perfectly good rock.

Apem: Save your gold.  When the word gets out, you’ll have a whole mob up here.

Timon: Please show me your back–and let it recede in the distance.

Apem: Enjoy your misery.

    (Apemantus leaves.  Timon has his back to the wing where three Bandits appear.  They are huddled together, whispering.  Then they step forward.)

Bandits: Timon!

Timon: Who are you–thieves?

Bandits: No, no.  We’re soldiers.

Timon: Bullshit.

1st Bandit: We just want whatever you’ve got.

Timon: Help yourselves!  This is Mother Nature’s supermarket.  You can dig roots out of the earth.  You can pick nuts off the trees.  You can pick berries off the bushes.  You can catch game and fish.

1st Bandit: No, no.  We can’t live on that.

Timon: Then you are thieves.  Fine.  I’d rather meet real thieves than those pretending to be in some other profession.  Nature loves thieves.  The sun steals from the sea, the moon steals from the sun, and the earth steals from the dung of animals.–You want gold?  Here’s some gold.  (He gives them gold nuggets.)   Go and be villains.  Rob everyone in Athens.  Loot.  Kill.  Destroy.  All your victims will be thieves themselves, so what’s the difference?

2nd Bandit: Gee–I almost don’t want to be a thief any more.

3rd Bandit: Let’s go to Athens and party.

1st Bandit: Yeah, let’s do that.  (To Timon)  Hey, thanks a lot.  Seriously.  You’re okay, man.

    (The Bandits leave.  Then Flavius comes in.  He reacts with shock at Timon’s appearance.)

Flavius: My lord?–Is that you?

Timon: Go away.  I’m nobody’s lord.

Flavius: You can’t have forgotten me.

Timon: I’ve forgotten everyone.  I never had an honest man about me.

Flavius: May the gods strike me dead if I was anything else.  My lord, no poor steward was ever more broken-hearted over his master than I am now. 

    (Timon pauses.  He is obviously touched.) 

Timon: My steward–the one honest man I ever knew.–Forgive me, Flavius.  Whatever curses I have hurled at humanity were never intended to include you.  (He is momentarily suspicious.)  Or are you here to get something out of me?

Flavius: You would suspect me now after all you’ve been through?  You should have suspected your flattering friends a long time ago.  I tried to protect you.

Timon: It’s true.  You did.  And I should have suspected them.  (Brightening)  Flavius, you’re in luck.  The gods put gold in this ground, and you can have it.  (He shows him some nuggets.)  Build yourself a house.  Be happy.–But don’t be good to anyone.  Let the beggars starve in the streets.  Let the orphans die or end up in prison.  Just take care of yourself.

Flavius: That’s not what I want.  I just want to serve you and take care of you.

Timon: And listen to me curse humanity constantly?  No.  You’d get sick of me.  So spare yourself the emotional upset.  I appreciate your kind thoughts, but I don’t want to be served or helped.  I don’t even want to look another human being in the eye.  I just want to be alone.  You should go, Flavius.

Flavius: Very well, sir.

    (Flavius leaves. sadly.)

Act 5, Scene 1.  The Poet and Painter approach Timon’s cave.  He is out of their sight but visible to the audience.  He can hear the following conversation.

Painter: He’s living out here somewhere.

Poet: Does he really have gold?

Painter: That’s what I’ve heard. 

Poet: Maybe this whole thing was a put-on to test his friends.

Painter: That’s what I think.  Just wait.  He’ll be back in Athens pretty soon, and he’ll be a big man just like before.  If we suck up to him the right way, he’ll be our patron again.

Poet: And even better than before.

Painter: Absolutely.  Have you got a poem for him?

Poet: No, but I’ll promise him one.

Painter: And I’ll promise him a painting.  A promise is better than the real thing.  It keeps people expecting and hoping.

    (Timon is reacting by making obscene gestures for the benefit of the audience.)

Poet: I’ll tell him I’m writing a poem about phonies and materialism.

Painter: That’s good.  And I’m doing something like, um–something surreal about Athens burning for its sins.

Poet: He’ll love that!

    (Timon comes out of his cave, smiling.)

Poet and Painter: Hail, Timon!

Timon: Well, well!  Can this be true–not one but two honest men come to visit me?

Poet: Oh, sir, we heard about your terrible misfortunes.  It’s just terrible the way people treated you.

Painter: It certainly is.  Just terrible.  We really felt bad, so we came looking for you to see if we could do anything for you.

Timon: But you heard that I had gold, right?

Painter: Em, we did hear something vague to that effect, but that’s not the reason why we’re here.

Poet: No, not at all.  We came out of the goodness of our hearts.–And–I’m going to write a poem about you that will shame your false friends.

Painter: And I’m going to do a painting about Athens on fire and the wicked people burning to death.

Timon: That’s wonderful.  I know how talented you fellows are.  You’re both masters of illusion, in your own way.

Poet and Painter: Oh, thank you, sir!

Timon: But I must tell you that there are two villains who want to ruin you.

Poet and Painter: Oh?

Timon: Yes.  And they’re people you know.

Painter: I’m sure I don’t know anyone like that.

Poet: Me, neither.

Timon: Oh, believe me.  I know things.  You have enemies.  Now, I want to help you in your careers, but you’ve got to get rid of your enemies first.  If you do, I’ll give you plenty of gold.  (To the Poet)  Now, you go that way and you’ll find your enemy.  (To the Painter, indicating the opposite direction)  And you go that way and you’ll find yours.–Don’t stop until you find them.

Poet and Painter (Confused): Em–

Timon: Just keep going in a straight line until you meet on the other side of the earth.–Go on, now.

    (The Poet and Painter leave separately.  Timon returns to his cave.  Then Flavius comes in with two Senators.  [Author’s note: These must be Senators not previously seen.])

Flavius: He may not speak to you, Senators.  He doesn’t want anything to do with people any more.

1st Sen: We promised the Athenians we would speak to him.

2nd Sen: At least we have to try.

Flavius: All right.  He’s in that cave.–Lord Timon!  Two senators want to talk to you!

    (Timon comes out of his cave.)

Timon: Don’t you understand that I came out here to get away from everyone?  Speak and be hanged!  Your words mean nothing to me.

1st Sen: My lord Timon, the senators of Athens send their greetings.

Timon: Fine.  I would send them back the plague if I had it.

1st Sen: Everyone’s sorry about the way you were treated.

2nd Sen: If you come back, we’ll restore your wealth and position–better than before.

Timon: If I were a fool, I’d be deeply touched.

1st Sen: Athens needs you, sir.  We need you to be our leader.  You can have complete power.

2nd Sen: Alcibiades is threatening to make war on us.  You can stop him.  You have influence with him.

Timon: You can go back and tell Alcibiades that I personally don’t give a rat’s ass what he does to Athens.  It’s not my problem.  Furthermore, I endorse his actions.

Flavius (To the Senators): I told you.

Timon: However–there is one measure of relief that I can give to the high and mighty of Athens.

Senators (Excitedly): Yes?  Yes?

Timon: I have a big tree nearby that I was intending to cut down.  Tell your friends that they are welcome to come and hang themselves from it while it’s still standing.

Senators: Oh!–Sir!

Flavius: Forget it.  Just leave him be.

Timon: You may say to Athens that they may look for my grave on the beach.  I’m already writing my epitaph, and my gravestone will bear the last words I ever say to Athens or the rest of humanity.  If anyone cares to bury me, they are welcome to do so.

    (Timon leaves [into the cave].)

1st Sen: It’s useless.

2nd Sen: Let’s go back.

    (Flavius and the Senators leave.) 

Act 5, Scene 2.  This scene is deleted. 

Act 5, Scene 3.  Flavius is standing beside Timon’s grave, shovel in hand.  A Soldier of Alcibiades comes in.

Soldier: Alcibiades has sent me for Timon.  Do you know where he is?

Flavius (Indicating the grave): Here.

Soldier: How did he die?

Flavius: I think he just willed himself to die.  I found him dead, so I buried him.

Soldier: It’s too bad.  Alcibiades was hoping Timon would help him subdue Athens.

Flavius: You can take back Timon’s last words.  I copied his epitaph.

    (He gives the Soldier a paper.)

Soldier: Thank you.

    (The Soldier leaves.  Flavius remains by the grave.) 

Act 5, Scene 4.  Before the walls of Athens.  Trumpets sound.  Alcibiades and Soldiers come in.  Senators appear on the walls [including those in Act 5, Scene 1, but not any seen previously].

Alcib: Senators of Athens, it is time to meet your fate.  For all the wrongs you have done, a price must be paid.

1st Sen: Sir, we have tried to reconcile with you.  We want to make peace.

2nd Sen: And we’ve tried to reconcile with Timon, too.  We weren’t all bad to him.

1st Sen: We’re not all guilty.  The whole city shouldn’t suffer.

2nd Sen: If you must have your revenge, let it be on those who have truly offended you and Timon.

1st Sen: Don’t punish the innocent with the guilty.  Remember that Athens is your city.

2nd Sen: If you will agree to punish only the guilty, throw down your glove to make your promise, and we’ll open the gates willingly.

    (Alcibiades tosses his glove on the ground.)

Alcib: There.  You have my promise.  And those who are to be punished will be tried by your own laws.

Senators: We agree.

    (A Senator signals behind , and the gates open.  Then the Soldier arrives with Timon’s epitaph.)

Soldier: My general, Lord Timon is dead.  His steward copied his epitaph and asked me to give it to you.

    (The Soldier gives Alcibiades the paper.)

Alcib. (Reading): “Here lies a wretched corpse, whose wretched soul is gone.  I, Timon, did hate all living men.  Pass by this grave and curse me as you will, but linger not, nor come again.”–My noble friend Timon is dead.  And all his faults I do forgive, and I will remember him generously as a good man who was hurt more than he could bear.–Now let justice be done–and then let us have peace.

    (Alcibiades and his Soldiers leave, entering the city.) 


    Copyright@ 2012 by Crad Kilodney.  E-mail:


One Response to “Shakespeare For White Trash: Timon of Athens”

  1. Frank Says:

    I really enjoyed this version.

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