Tímon de Atenas – highlights 1 of 5

Tímon de Atenas – highlights 1 of 5


Lady, I imagined upon a high and pleasant hill, Fortune to be throned. The base o’ th mount
Is rank’d with diverse men, all kind of natures That labour on the bosom of this sphere
To propagate their states. Amongst them all Whose eyes are on this sovereign lady Fortune fixed,
One do I personate of Lord Timon’s frame, Whom Fortune with her ivory hand wafts to her,
Whose present grace transforms his every rival To present slaves and servants. ‘Tis well conceived. And yet –
This throne, this Fortune, and this hill, methinks, With one man beckoned from the rest below,
Bowing his head against the steepy mount To climb to his happiness, expresses well
Our status. Nay, but hear me on:
All those which were his equals but of late Some better than his value – on the moment
Follow his strides, Rain sacrificial whisperings in his ear,
Then kiss his shoe, and breathe his exhalations. Ay, marry, what of these? When Fortune in her shift and change of mood
Spurns down her late beloved, all his dependents Which laboured after him to the mountain’s top
Even on their knees and hands, let him slip down, Not one accompanying his declining foot. ‘Tis not remarkable:
A thousand moral paintings I can show That shall demonstrate these…
Sudden blows of Fortune Tis true Sir. Yet you do well
To show Lord Timon that mean eyes have seen
The foot of Fortune poised above the head. Most honoured Timon, Noble Ventidius. Delivered straight from prison. My lord I thank you for my freedom, but it hath pleased the gods to remember
My father’s age and call him to long peace. He is gone happy and has left me rich.
 Then, as in grateful virtue I am bound

To your free heart, I do return the money Doubled with thanks and service, from whose help

I derived liberty. O, by no means,

Honest Ventidius, you mistake my love I gave it freely ever, and there’s none
Can truly say he gives, if he receives. A noble spirit! Ceremony was but devised at first

To set a gloss on faint deeds, hollow welcomes.
 But where there is true friendship there needs none.

Pray sit, more welcome are ye to my fortunes

Than my fortunes to me. My lord, we always have known it. And profited, for sure. You make me marvel wherefore ere this time
Had you not fully laid my state before me That I might so have managed my expense
As I had leave of means. You would not hear me.
At many leisures I proposed. Go to,
Perchance some single vantages you took. When my indisposition put you off
And that unaptness you make minister Thus to excuse yourself. O my good lord,
At many times I brought in my accounts, Laid them before you; you would throw them off
And say you found them in mine honesty. When, for some trifling present you have bid me Return much more in recompense,
I have shook my head and wept. Yea, ‘gainst th’authority of manners, prayed you To hold your hand more close. I did endure
Not seldom, nor no slight checks, when I have Warned you of the ebb of your estate
And your great flow of debts. My loved lord,
Though you hear now, yet now’s too late a time The greatest of your having lacks a half
To pay your present debts. Let some land be sold. ‘Tis mortgaged all, some forfeited and gone,
And what remains will hardly stop the mouth Of present dues; the future comes apace.
What shall be done presently, and at length How goes our reckoning? To distant Sparta did my land extend. O my good lord, the world is but a word;
Were it all yours to give it in a breath, How quickly were it gone. You tell me true. If you suspect my husbandry of falsehood,
Call me before th’exactest auditors And set me on the proof. So the gods bless me,
When all our offices have been oppressed With riotous feeders, when our vaults have wept
With drunken spilth of wine, when every room Hath blazed with lights and brayed with minstrelsy,
I have retired me to a lonely room – And set mine eyes at flow.
– Prithee, no more. ‘Heavens’, have I said, ‘the bounty of this lord!
How many lavish morsels have slaves and peasants This night englutted? Who is not Timon’s?
What heart, head, sword, force, means, but is Lord Timon’s? “Great Timon, noble, worthy, royal Timon!”
Ah, when the means are gone that buy this praise, The breath is gone whereof this praise is made.
Feast-won, fast-lost. one cloud of winter showers,
These flies lie hidden. Come, sermon me no further.
No villainous bounty yet hath pass’d my heart; Unwisely, not ignobly, have I given.
Why dost thou weep? Canst thou the conscience lack To think I shall lack friends? Secure thy heart.
If I would broach the vessels of my love, And test the content of their hearts by borrowing,
Men and men’s fortunes could I freely use. As I can bid thee speak. And, in some sort, these wants of mine are crowned,
That I account them blessings. For by these Shall I try friends. You shall perceive how you
Mistake my fortunes: I am wealthy in my friends.

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