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attracted Shakespeare to the subject of the play. Shakespeare was also acquainted with Paynter's story of Timon, in The Palace of Pleasure. Other versions of the story are to be found in Elizabethan literature (e. g. the account of Timon in Richard Barckley's Felicity of Man). "Critic Timon" is already referred to by Shakespeare in his early play of Love's Labor's Lost.
An interesting comparison might be instituted between the present play and Lucian's Dialogue on Timon; it seems almost certain that directly or indirectly the Dialogue has exercised considerable influence on the conception of the drama, though we know of no English or French version of Lucian's work that Shakespeare could have used; perhaps the other author of the play possessed the Greek he lacked.
DATE OF COMPOSITION
Some of the problems connected with the composition of Timon have already been indicated. Internal evidence of style is alone available for fixing the date of Shakespeare's parts of the play. Esthetic and metrical considerations would place it after Hamlet-(Coleridge describes it as an "after-vibration of Hamlet," but the vibration is rather too harsh and jarring)—and before the opening of Shakespeare's last period, i. e. about the same time as Macbeth, Othello, and Lear; Shakespeare's satirical drama must belong to the period when, "as the stern censurer of mankind," he reached his greatest tragic height; it makes one happy to think that the pity and terror of tragedy had more attractions for him than the stern severity of bitter satire; he probably found the theme uncongenial and cast it aside:
"No.-I am that I am; and they that level
At my abuses reckon up their own:
I may be straight, though they themselves be bevel;
All men are bad and in their badness reign."
DURATION OF ACTION
The time of the play may be taken as six days represented on the stage, with one long interval:
Day 1. Act I, sc. i, ii.
Day 2. Act II, sc. i, ii; Act III, sc. i-iii.
Day 3. Act III, sc. iv-vi; Act IV, sc. i and ii. Interval.
Day 4. Act IV, sc. iii.
Day 5. Act V, sc. i, ii.
By J. ELLIS BURDICK
By his liberality, Timon, a lord of Athens, surrounds himself with countless numbers of dependents and followers. They flatter him and he gives them gifts and shows them other favors, believing in the sincerity of their friendships. He gives one dinner at which the favors are precious stones. Flavius, his steward, is much distressed over this mad bounty of his master.
Timon's creditors begin to suspect his financial condition and dun him for their money. At last Timon is made to realize that his steward's worryings had some foundation, but he comforts himself with the thought that he has only to ask aid from those who have enjoyed his bounty and that all their wealth will be at his disposal. Accordingly he dispatches his servants to them with requests for loans.
His one-time friends all refuse to help him and even send to him demanding that he pay them certain small sums he owes them. Realizing the worthlessness of these men and to show his contempt of them, he invites them to a farewell banquet. When the dishes are uncovered they are seen to contain only warm water. Reproaching them for their ungratefulness he throws the water in their faces and hurls the dishes at them, driving them from the house.