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from Lucian, there being then no translation of the dialogue that relates to that subject.
Malone imagines that Shakspeare wrote his Timon of Athens in the
“Of all the works of Shakspeare, Timon of Athens possesses most the character of a satire-a laughing satire in the picture of the parasites and flatterers, and a Juvenalian in the bitterness and the imprecations of Timon against the ingratitude of a false world. The story is treated in a very simple manner, and is definitely divided into large masses :-in the first act, the joyous life of Timon, his noble and hospitable extravagance, and the throng of every description of suitors to him; in the second and third acts, his embarrassment, and the trial which he is thereby reduced to make of his supposed friends, who all desert him in the hour of need; in the fourth and fifth acts, Timon's flight to the woods, his misanthropical melancholy, and his death. The only thing which may be called an episode, is the banishment of Alcibiades, and his return by force of arms. However, they are both examples of ingratitude,—the one of a state towards its defender, and the other of private friends to their benefactor. * As the merits of the general towards his fellow-citizens suppose more strength of character than those of the generous prodigal, their respective behaviors are no less different. Timon frets himself to death; Alcibiades
* “ It appears to me,” says Singer," that Schlegel and professor Richardson have taken more unfavorable view of the character of Timon, than our great Poet intended to convey. Timon had not only been a benefactor to his private, unworthy friends, but he had rendered the state service, which ought not to have been forgotten. He himself expresses his consciousness of this, when he sends one of his servants to request a thousand talents at the hands of the senators
Of whom, even to the state's best health, I have
And Alcibiades afterwards confirms this:
I have heard, and grieved
“ Surely, then, he suffered as much mentally from the ingratitude of the state, as from that of his faithless friends. Shakspeare seems to have entered entirely into the feeling of bitterness, which such conduct was likely to awaken in a good and susceptible nature, and has expressed it with vehemence and force. The virtues of Timon, too, may be inferred from the absence of any thing which could imply dissoluteness or intemperance in his conduct: as Richardson observes, "He is convivial, but his enjoyment of the banquet is in the pleasure of his guests; Phrynia and Timandra are not in the train of Timon, but of Alcibiades. He is not so desirous of being distinguished for magnificence, as of being eminent for courteous and beneficent actions: he solicits distinction, but it is by doing good.' Johnson has remarked that the attachment of his servants in his declining fortunes, could be produced by nothing but real virtue and disinterested kindness. I cannot, therefore, think that Shakspeare meant to stigmatize the generosity of Timon as that of a fool, or that he meant his misanthropy to convey to us any notion of the vanity of wishing to be singular.""
regains his lost dignity by violence. If the Poet very properly sides with Timon against the common practice of the world, he is, on the other hand, by no means disposed to spare Timon. Timon was a fool in his generosity; he is a madman in his discontent; he is every where wanting in the wisdom which enables man in all things to observe the due measure. Although the truth of his extravagant feelings is proved by his death, and though, when he digs up a treasure, he spurns at the wealth which seems to solicit him, we yet see distinctly enough that the vanity of wishing to be singular, in both parts of the play, had some share in his liberal selfforgetfulness, as well as his anchoretical seclusion. This is particularly evident in the incomparable scene where the cynic Apemantus visits Timon in the wilderness. They have a sort of competition with each other in their trade of misanthropy: the cynic reproaches the impoverished Timon with having been merely driven by necessity to take to the way of living which he had been long following of his free choice, and Timon cannot bear the thought of being merely an imitator of the cynic. As in this subject the effect could only be produced by an accumulation of similar features, in the variety of the shades an amazing degree of understanding has been displayed by Shakspeare. What a powerfully diversified concert of flatteries and empty testimonies of devotedness! It is highly amusing to see the suitors, whom the ruined circumstances of their patron had dispersed, immediately flock to him again when they learn that he had been revisited by fortune. In the speeches of Timon, after he is undeceived, all the hostile figures of language are exhausted,—it is a dictionary of eloquent imprecations." *
Timon, a noble Athenian.
Servants to Timon's Creditors.
of Timon's Creditors.
Other Lords, Senators, Officers, Soldiers, Thieves, and
SCENE. Athens, and the Woods adjoining.
14 4«*. t.,