Timon (TI-muhn), a noble Athenian who impoverishes himself through his unceasing generosity to his friends. He lavishes gifts on them, offers help when they find themselves in trouble, and entertains them at extravagant feasts, paying no attention to the warnings of his steward that his fortune is dwindling. Refused at every door when he himself needs assistance, he is so completely disillusioned with human ingratitude that he becomes a misanthrope and flees to the woods to escape humanity. Before his departure, he invites his acquaintances to a final banquet, where he sets before them bowls of water. Bent on avenging his injuries and knowing that wealth breeds discontent and misfortune, he dispenses gold from a newly discovered treasure trove, and he encourages Alcibiades’ attack on his native city. He composes his own epitaph as a final defiance of ungrateful humankind: “Pass by, and curse thy fill, but pass and stay not here thy gait.”
Alcibiades (al-sih-BI-uh-deez), the great Athenian captain, Timon’s friend, and several times the savior of his state. Banished by the senate when he defends one of his soldiers against a death sentence, he later returns with an army to take vengeance on the city and purge it of evil.
Flavius (FLAY-vee-uhs), Timon’s loyal steward,...
(The entire section is 592 words.)