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Timon of Athens

ACT I SCENE II A banqueting-room in Timon’s house.
[ Hautboys playing loud music. A great banquet served in; FLAVIUS and others attending; then enter TIMON, ALCIBIADES, Lords, Senators, and VENTIDIUS. Then comes, dropping, after all, APEMANTUS, discontentedly, like himself ]
VENTIDIUS Most honour’d Timon,
It hath pleased the gods to remember my father’s age,
And call him to long peace.
He is gone happy, and has left me rich:
Then, as in grateful virtue I am bound 5
To your free heart, I do return those talents,
Doubled with thanks and service, from whose help
I derived liberty.
TIMON O, by no means,
Honest Ventidius; you mistake my love: 10
I gave it freely ever; and there’s none
Can truly say he gives, if he receives:
If our betters play at that game, we must not dare
To imitate them; faults that are rich are fair.
VENTIDIUS A noble spirit! 15
TIMON Nay, my lords,
[They all stand ceremoniously looking on TIMON]
Ceremony was but devised at first
To set a gloss on faint deeds, hollow welcomes,
Recanting goodness, sorry ere ’tis shown;
But where there is true friendship, there needs none. 20
Pray, sit; more welcome are ye to my fortunes
Than my fortunes to me.
[They sit]
First Lord My lord, we always have confess’d it.
APEMANTUS Ho, ho, confess’d it! hang’d it, have you not?
TIMON O, Apemantus, you are welcome. 25
You shall not make me welcome:
I come to have thee thrust me out of doors.
TIMON Fie, thou’rt a churl; ye’ve got a humour there
Does not become a man: ’tis much to blame. 30
They say, my lords, ‘ira furor brevis est;’ but yond
man is ever angry. Go, let him have a table by
himself, for he does neither affect company, nor is
he fit for’t, indeed.
APEMANTUS Let me stay at thine apperil, Timon: I come to 35
observe; I give thee warning on’t.
TIMON I take no heed of thee; thou’rt an Athenian,
therefore welcome: I myself would have no power;
prithee, let my meat make thee silent.
APEMANTUS I scorn thy meat; ‘twould choke me, for I should 40
ne’er flatter thee. O you gods, what a number of
men eat Timon, and he sees ’em not! It grieves me
to see so many dip their meat in one man’s blood;
and all the madness is, he cheers them up too.
I wonder men dare trust themselves with men: 45
Methinks they should invite them without knives;
Good for their meat, and safer for their lives.
There’s much example for’t; the fellow that sits
next him now, parts bread with him, pledges the
breath of him in a divided draught, is the readiest 50
man to kill him: ‘t has been proved. If I were a
huge man, I should fear to drink at meals;
Lest they should spy my windpipe’s dangerous notes:
Great men should drink with harness on their throats.
TIMON My lord, in heart; and let the health go round. 55
Second Lord Let it flow this way, my good lord.
APEMANTUS Flow this way! A brave fellow! he keeps his tides
well. Those healths will make thee and thy state
look ill, Timon. Here’s that which is too weak to
be a sinner, honest water, which ne’er left man i’ the mire: 60
This and my food are equals; there’s no odds:
Feasts are too proud to give thanks to the gods.
Apemantus’ grace.
Immortal gods, I crave no pelf;
I pray for no man but myself: 65
Grant I may never prove so fond,
To trust man on his oath or bond;
Or a harlot, for her weeping;
Or a dog, that seems a-sleeping:
Or a keeper with my freedom; 70
Or my friends, if I should need ’em.
Amen. So fall to’t:
Rich men sin, and I eat root.
[Eats and drinks]
Much good dich thy good heart, Apemantus!
TIMON Captain Alcibiades, your heart’s in the field now. 75
ALCIBIADES My heart is ever at your service, my lord.
TIMON You had rather be at a breakfast of enemies than a
dinner of friends.
ALCIBIADES So the were bleeding-new, my lord, there’s no meat
like ’em: I could wish my best friend at such a feast. 80
APEMANTUS Would all those fatterers were thine enemies then,
that then thou mightst kill ’em and bid me to ’em!
First Lord Might we but have that happiness, my lord, that you
would once use our hearts, whereby we might express
some part of our zeals, we should think ourselves 85
for ever perfect.
TIMON O, no doubt, my good friends, but the gods
themselves have provided that I shall have much help
from you: how had you been my friends else? why
have you that charitable title from thousands, did 90
not you chiefly belong to my heart? I have told
more of you to myself than you can with modesty
speak in your own behalf; and thus far I confirm
you. O you gods, think I, what need we have any
friends, if we should ne’er have need of ’em? they 95
were the most needless creatures living, should we
ne’er have use for ’em, and would most resemble
sweet instruments hung up in cases that keep their
sounds to themselves. Why, I have often wished
myself poorer, that I might come nearer to you. We 100
are born to do benefits: and what better or
properer can we can our own than the riches of our
friends? O, what a precious comfort ’tis, to have
so many, like brothers, commanding one another’s
fortunes! O joy, e’en made away ere ‘t can be born! 105
Mine eyes cannot hold out water, methinks: to
forget their faults, I drink to you.
APEMANTUS Thou weepest to make them drink, Timon.
Second Lord Joy had the like conception in our eyes
And at that instant like a babe sprung up. 110
APEMANTUS Ho, ho! I laugh to think that babe a bastard.
Third Lord I promise you, my lord, you moved me much.
[Tucket, within]
TIMON What means that trump?
[Enter a Servant]
How now? 115
Servant Please you, my lord, there are certain
ladies most desirous of admittance.
TIMON Ladies! what are their wills?
Servant There comes with them a forerunner, my lord, which
bears that office, to signify their pleasures. 120
TIMON I pray, let them be admitted.
[Enter Cupid]
Cupid Hail to thee, worthy Timon, and to all
That of his bounties taste! The five best senses
Acknowledge thee their patron; and come freely
To gratulate thy plenteous bosom: th’ ear, 125
Taste, touch and smell, pleased from thy tale rise;
They only now come but to feast thine eyes.
TIMON They’re welcome all; let ’em have kind admittance:
Music, make their welcome!
[Exit Cupid]
First Lord You see, my lord, how ample you’re beloved. 130
[ Music. Re-enter Cupid with a mask of Ladies as Amazons, with lutes in their hands, dancing and playing ]
APEMANTUS Hoy-day, what a sweep of vanity comes this way!
They dance! they are mad women.
Like madness is the glory of this life.
As this pomp shows to a little oil and root.
We make ourselves fools, to disport ourselves; 135
And spend our flatteries, to drink those men
Upon whose age we void it up again,
With poisonous spite and envy.
Who lives that’s not depraved or depraves?
Who dies, that bears not one spurn to their graves 140
Of their friends’ gift?
I should fear those that dance before me now
Would one day stamp upon me: ‘t has been done;
Men shut their doors against a setting sun.
[ The Lords rise from table, with much adoring of TIMON; and to show their loves, each singles out an Amazon, and all dance, men with women, a lofty strain or two to the hautboys, and cease ]
TIMON You have done our pleasures much grace, fair ladies, 145
Set a fair fashion on our entertainment,
Which was not half so beautiful and kind;
You have added worth unto ‘t and lustre,
And entertain’d me with mine own device;
I am to thank you for ‘t. 150
First Lady My lord, you take us even at the best.
APEMANTUS ‘Faith, for the worst is filthy; and would not hold
taking, I doubt me.
TIMON Ladies, there is an idle banquet attends you:
Please you to dispose yourselves. 155
All Ladies Most thankfully, my lord.
[Exeunt Cupid and Ladies]
TIMON Flavius.
FLAVIUS My lord?
TIMON The little casket bring me hither.
FLAVIUS Yes, my lord. More jewels yet! 160
There is no crossing him in ‘s humour;
Else I should tell him,–well, i’ faith I should,
When all’s spent, he ‘ld be cross’d then, an he could.
‘Tis pity bounty had not eyes behind,
That man might ne’er be wretched for his mind. 165
First Lord Where be our men?
Servant Here, my lord, in readiness.
Second Lord Our horses!
[Re-enter FLAVIUS, with the casket]
TIMON O my friends,
I have one word to say to you: look you, my good lord, 170
I must entreat you, honour me so much
As to advance this jewel; accept it and wear it,
Kind my lord.
First Lord I am so far already in your gifts,–
All So are we all. 175
[Enter a Servant]
Servant My lord, there are certain nobles of the senate
Newly alighted, and come to visit you.
TIMON They are fairly welcome.
FLAVIUS I beseech your honour,
Vouchsafe me a word; it does concern you near. 180
TIMON Near! why then, another time I’ll hear thee:
I prithee, let’s be provided to show them
FLAVIUS [Aside] I scarce know how.
[Enter a Second Servant]
Second Servant May it please your honour, Lord Lucius, 185
Out of his free love, hath presented to you
Four milk-white horses, trapp’d in silver.
TIMON I shall accept them fairly; let the presents
Be worthily entertain’d.
[Enter a third Servant]
How now! what news? 190
Third Servant Please you, my lord, that honourable
gentleman, Lord Lucullus, entreats your company
to-morrow to hunt with him, and has sent your honour
two brace of greyhounds.
TIMON I’ll hunt with him; and let them be received, 195
Not without fair reward.
FLAVIUS [Aside] What will this come to?
He commands us to provide, and give great gifts,
And all out of an empty coffer:
Nor will he know his purse, or yield me this, 200
To show him what a beggar his heart is,
Being of no power to make his wishes good:
His promises fly so beyond his state
That what he speaks is all in debt; he owes
For every word: he is so kind that he now 205
Pays interest for ‘t; his land’s put to their books.
Well, would I were gently put out of office
Before I were forced out!
Happier is he that has no friend to feed
Than such that do e’en enemies exceed. 210
I bleed inwardly for my lord.
TIMON You do yourselves
Much wrong, you bate too much of your own merits:
Here, my lord, a trifle of our love.
Second Lord With more than common thanks I will receive it. 215
Third Lord O, he’s the very soul of bounty!
TIMON And now I remember, my lord, you gave
Good words the other day of a bay courser
I rode on: it is yours, because you liked it.
Second Lord O, I beseech you, pardon me, my lord, in that. 220
TIMON You may take my word, my lord; I know, no man
Can justly praise but what he does affect:
I weigh my friend’s affection with mine own;
I’ll tell you true. I’ll call to you.
All Lords O, none so welcome. 225
TIMON I take all and your several visitations
So kind to heart, ’tis not enough to give;
Methinks, I could deal kingdoms to my friends,
And ne’er be weary. Alcibiades,
Thou art a soldier, therefore seldom rich; 230
It comes in charity to thee: for all thy living
Is ‘mongst the dead, and all the lands thou hast
Lie in a pitch’d field.
ALCIBIADES Ay, defiled land, my lord.
First Lord We are so virtuously bound– 235
TIMON And so
Am I to you.
Second Lord So infinitely endear’d–
TIMON All to you. Lights, more lights!
First Lord The best of happiness, 240
Honour and fortunes, keep with you, Lord Timon!
TIMON Ready for his friends.
[Exeunt all but APEMANTUS and TIMON]
APEMANTUS What a coil’s here!
Serving of becks and jutting-out of bums!
I doubt whether their legs be worth the sums 245
That are given for ’em. Friendship’s full of dregs:
Methinks, false hearts should never have sound legs,
Thus honest fools lay out their wealth on court’sies.
TIMON Now, Apemantus, if thou wert not sullen, I would be
good to thee. 250
APEMANTUS No, I’ll nothing: for if I should be bribed too,
there would be none left to rail upon thee, and then
thou wouldst sin the faster. Thou givest so long,
Timon, I fear me thou wilt give away thyself in
paper shortly: what need these feasts, pomps and 255
TIMON Nay, an you begin to rail on society once, I am
sworn not to give regard to you. Farewell; and come
with better music.
Thou wilt not hear me now; thou shalt not then:
I’ll lock thy heaven from thee.
O, that men’s ears should be
To counsel deaf, but not to flattery!

Timon of Athens, Act 2, Scene 1