Lex-Ham Community Theater
Shakespeare Reading Series
Timon of Athens

Timon of Athens is the tragic tale of Timon, an excessively generous Athenian, who is forced to face the day of reckoning when the bills for all of his gifts must be paid.  How will he react?  Who will help him?  Surely, his good works would be rewarded, won't they?

The play has many examples of how to live today - especially around the holiday season:
Timon shows how to be generous without a lot of cash in the bank in Act I.

Lucullus and Lucius show how to say thank you for that exquisite gift you can't reciprocate in Act II. 

Timon outshines even Martha Stewart in serving a meal with a little surprise for guests with only a few things from around the house in Act III.

Timon is the perfect host for all those unexpected guests in Act IV.

The potential benefits of a little home garden are shown in Act IV.

Some interesting tidbits about the play:
Many experts think the play was never finished and needed some more editing.  Thus there are odd unexplainable lines like:
Lucius in III.2 "He cannot want fifty - five hundred - talents"; or
why Timon has two contradictory epitaphs engraved on his tomb.

The play's material may have been too hot to handle.  Most experts say the play was written around 1605 to 1608 shortly after James I became king.  James I gave expensive gifts to friends which created huge deficits to England's budget and an economic crisis.

The play serves as a good medical history of all the symptoms one could expect from sexually-transmitted diseases of the day.

Some good references for the play are:

The Story
Text of the play
SparkNotes summary of the play
Charles and Mary Lamb's Tales from Shakespeare
Background information
Shakespeare timeline

Sources
Thomas North's translation of Plutarch's Lives - Antony
Timon the Misanthrope by the Greek satirist Lucian

Film Versions
Timon of Athens (1981 - TV Version)

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Last updated: 08/03/02