Timon of Athens

Definition

Theater

  • A little-known tragedy by Shakespeare, written between1604 and 1608. No performances are recorded until 1678, when ThomasShadwell presented an adaptation entitled The Man-Hater. Shakespeare'sversion does not seem to have been revived in London until 1851, whenSamuel Phelps produced it at Sadler's Wells Theatre. Some scholarsbelieve that the loose plot, uneven writing, and thin characterizationindicate that the surviving play is a draft or incomplete version.

    More recently, Paul Scofield won acclaim for his performanceas the misanthropic Timon in a 1965 Stratford production, while PeterBrook chose the play as the first full-scale production forthe International Centre for Theatre Research in Paris (1970).

    The plot centres upon Timon, a rich Athenian noble noted forhis generous benefactions. When his funds become depleted, he askshis friends for help but they all turn him down. Stung by their ingratitude,he invites them to a feast where the beautiful covered dishes turnout to contain warm water. Timon turns his back on the city to becomea misanthropic hermit. While digging for roots one day, he finds gold,which he gives to the rebel general Alcibiades, who is about to leadan army against Athens. The corrupt senators visit Timon's cave andbeg him for help but he refuses. Soon afterwards he dies and is buriedon the seashore. Alcibiades takes the city and offers peace.

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