Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
The Athens house of Timon, a wealthy lord of the city, is the scene of much coming and going. Poets, artists, artisans, merchants, politicians, and well-wishers in general seek the friendship and favors of a man whose generosity knows no bounds. While waiting to speak to Timon, a poet discloses his vision to an artist: Timon is depicted as the darling of Dame Fortune, and his friends and acquaintances spare no effort in admiring his favored position. The vision continues; Fortune turns and Timon tumbles into penury, his friends doing nothing to comfort him.
Timon joins the crowd of suitors in his reception chamber. When a messenger reports that Ventidius, his friend, was jailed for a debt, Timon promises to pay the debt and to support Ventidius until he becomes solvent again. An old man complains that one of Timon’s servants stole the heart of his only daughter. Timon promises to match the girl’s dowry with an equal sum. Then he receives the poet and the painter and the jeweler graciously, accepting their shameless flattery. Apemantus, a crudely candid friend, declares broadly that these flatterers and seekers of bounty are a pack of knaves. Alcibiades, a great military leader, comes with a troop of followers to dine with Timon. As all prepare to feast at Timon’s bounteous table, Apemantus curses them roundly.
A great feast is served to the accompaniment of music. Ventidius, freed from jail, offers to repay the money spent on his behalf,...
(The entire section is 1366 words.)
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Timon of Athens is set in ancient Greece. The first act takes place in Timon's palatial home. A poet, a painter, a jeweler, and a merchant enter a formal reception room in the house. Each of them has brought something they hope Timon will admire and want to purchase. Timon comes into the room, with several people crowding around him seeking his support or patronage. One of these is a messenger from Timon's friend Ventidius. When Timon hears that Ventidius has been thrown in jail because he can't repay a creditor, Timon quickly offers to pay the debt. An old man arrives, complaining that Timon's servant Lucilius is courting his daughter; Timon offers to put up as much money on behalf of Lucilius as the man means to bestow on his daughter, and the old Athenian agrees to the match. In the great banquet hall, Timon hosts a magnificent feast for his guests. During the course of the evening, they are entertained by a masque in which women dressed as mythical Amazons dance to the accompaniment of lutes. At the close of this lavish occasion, Timon gives one friend a precious jewel, another a valuable horse, as both his steward and his friend Apemantus try in vain to persuade him of the folly of his generosity
On the following day, a money-lender notes how much Timon owes him and other usurers; he instructs his servant Caphis to go to Timon and demand repayment immediately. When Caphis arrives at Timon's house, he...
(The entire section is 933 words.)