Timon of Athens "We Have Seen Better Days"

William Shakespeare

"We Have Seen Better Days"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: This saying is constantly used today and is part of everyday language. In the play, Timon is a lavish patron of the arts and a generous, open-handed host. He delights in giving. But his extravagance ends in bankruptcy. Soon, his creditors become alarmed and try to collect. Flavius, Timon's faithful steward, finally convinces him he owes more than twice what he owns. Timon believes his friends will repay kindness with kindness, and sends servants to request loans of them. Lucullus tries to bribe the servant to say that he was out; Lucius regrets the ill-chance that finds him temporarily unable to help; Sempronius takes offense that he was solicited last, and refuses. His eyes open at last, Timon invites them for a final banquet, which turns out to be water, and which he throws in their faces. Timon then deserts Athens, leaving his servants. Flavius, the steward, commiserates with them and shares his money with them. (This same quotation appears in As You Like It, Act II, sc. vii, l. 120, which was performed some five or six years before Timon of Athens.)


FLAVIUS
Good fellows all,
The latest of my wealth I'll share amongst you.
Wherever we shall meet, for Timon's sake,
Let's yet be fellows. Let's shake our heads, and say
As 'twere a knell unto our master's fortunes,
We have seen better days. Let each take some.
[Gives money.]