Synopsis

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Scene by Scene Synopsis

Scene: Ancient Athens and surrounding area.

Act I, Scene 1:  In Athens a Poet, a Painter, a Jeweler, and a Merchant expect payment from the generous nobleman, Timon for their efforts to please him Timon arrives and promises a Messenger that he will pay the debts of Ventidius, which will free him from prison. He promises a fortune to his servant Lucilius so that he may marry the daughter of an aristocratic Old Athenian. The philosopher Apemantus appears, and the company prepares to be insulted by his heavy wit. Indulged by Timon, Apemantus denounces each of them as a dishonest flatterer Alcibiades arrives, and Timon invites them all to dinner.

Act I, Scene 2:  At Timon's great banquet, Ventidius, whose father has left him a fortune, offers to repay Timon the money he had lent him, but Timon refuses to accept it. Apemantus criticizes Timon's greedy followers who consume his banquet, but Timon praises them for the help he knows they would give if it were needed A masque is performed, and Apemantus rages against the vanity of such things. Timon offers expensive gifts to his guests. His STEWARD (2) worries that such generosity has put Timon deep in debt. Apemantus refuses to seek gifts from Timon because it would be sinful to encourage the nobleman's fondness for flattery.

Act II, Scene 1:  A Senator who knows of Timon's excessive generosity decides to send his servant, Caphis, to collect the debt Timon owes him before it is too late.

Act II, Scene 2:  Caphis, Varro’s Servant, and Isidore’s Servant accost Timon when they arrive to collect debts from him. He is astonished, and his Steward has to point out that he has refused to oversee his accounts despite all urging, and that now the debts caused by his generosity cannot be paid because even his lands are already mortgaged. Timon hopes to borrow money from his friends, and sends Flaminius, Servilius, another Servant, and the Steward to Lucius, Lucullus, Sempronius, and Ventidius, respectively.

Act III, Scene I:  Lucullus refuses to lend money to Timon and offers to bribe Flammius if he will say he could not find him to request the loan. Flaminius curses him

Act III, Scene 2:  Lucius hears of Lucullus' behavior and swears that he would have loaned Timon the money, but when Servilius arrives to ask him for a loan, he refuses and claims to have no funds available.

Act III, Scene 3:  Timon's Servant tells Sempronius that his master's other friends have refused to lend money, whereupon Sempronius claims to be offended that he was not asked first and therefore refuses to help.

Act III, Scene 4:  Lucius Servant meets the Servants of Varro, Titus, Hortensius, and Philotus, all of whom hope to collect money from Timon. They regret the thanklessness of their masters, who have benefited by Timon's generosity and now will not forgive him his debts. Timon appears in a rage and insists that they will have to cut up his body as payment; the servants realize they will get no money, and they leave. Timon tells the Steward to send out messages to all of his friends inviting them to an immense banquet.

Act III, Scene 5: Alcibiades seeks mercy from the Senators for a friend who has killed someone in a fight. They refuse, but he continues to argue, and claims that his friend should be spared because he has served as a soldier. Offended that he will not accept their decision, the Senators banish Alcibiades from Athens. He vows to take revenge on the city with his army.

Act III, Scene 6:  Timon's friends assemble at the banquet and make excuses for not having assisted him. They hope to receive expensive gifts, as before. Timon formally curses the guests and drives them away. 

Act IV, Scene 1:  As he leaves Athens, Timon maliciously wishes evil on all elements of society. 

Act IV, Scene 2:  Timon's Steward and several of his former Servants part sorrowfully. The Steward soliloquizes on the pointlessness of wealth and the foolishness of man. He vows to find Timon and to continue serving him.

Act IV, Scene 3: Timon, alone in the wilderness, denounces humanity.  As he digs for roots, he finds gold. He curses it as a great evil and decides to distribute it and thereby destroy society. Alcibiades appears; Timon rejects his offer of friendship but is pleased to hear of his plan to conquer Athens, and he urges him to be brutal. Alcibiades departs, and Apemantus arrives. He offers food, but Timon refuses it with curses, and Apemantus observes that Timon is as extreme in his disgust as he once was in his generosity. The two misanthropes remark on the faults of humanity and then fall into an exchange of insults. As Apemantus leaves, a group of thieves arrives. Timon sarcastically praises them for taking what they want and compares them with thieves who purport to be good citizens. He gives each Bandit gold. They leave, as the Steward arrives. His compassion moves Timon to relent and concede that one honest man lives, but he refuses to be served by him and drives him away.

Act V, Scene 1:  The Poet and the Painter have heard that Timon has gold, and they seek him in the woods. They intend to promise him great works so that he will give them gifts. Timon overhears their plans and pretends to trust them. He gives them gold as he denounces them and drives them away. Two Senators arrive and ask for Timon's help against Alcibiades. They offer to restore his wealth if he will return to Athens. He refuses and grimly delights in the atrocities he anticipates Alcibiades will visit on the city. He advises Athenians to hang themselves, and declares that he will leave a gravestone with further advice.

Act V, Scene 2: Some Senators hear of Alcibiades' approach with a large army and then of Timon's refusal of support.

Act V, Scene 3:  As he seeks Timon with a message from Alcibiades, a Soldier finds a bitter note that announces Timon's death. He also sees a gravestone inscribed in a language he cannot read. He makes a copy of it to take to Alcibiades.

Act V, Scene 4:  A delegation of Senators seeks mercy from Alcibiades, and he promises that he will only take revenge on the few people who had offended him. The Soldier arrives with the gravestone text, which restates Timon's hatred of humanity. Alcibiades mourns for his friend's state of mind at death as he enters the city and vows to make a lasting peace in Athens.

 

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