Humility and Humiliation in Timon of Athens. Shakespeare does Schtick. Apemantus Searches for an Honest Man.


Humility and Humiliation in Timon of Athens.

Shakespeare does Schtick.

 Apemantus Searches for an Honest Man.

Burton Weltman

“Modesty is the color of virtue.”

Diogenes the Cynic.

Prologue: The Parties of the First and Second Parts.

Party of the First Part: “Thou art the cap of all fools alive.”

Party of the Second Part: “Would thou wert clean enough to spit upon!”

Party of the First Part: “A plague upon thee!  Thou art too bad to curse.”

Party of the Second Part: “All villains that stand by thee, are pure [by comparison].”

Party of the First Part: “There is no leprosy but what thou speak’st.”

Party of the Second Part: “If I name thee. I’d beat thee, but I should infect my hands.”

Party of the First Part: “I would my tongue would rot them off.”

Party of the Second Part: “Away thou issue of a mangy dog!”

Question: Is this Groucho and Chico Marx, or Apemantus and Timon of Athens?

For the answer, see the footnote below.[1]

 Mining for Gold in Timon of Athens.

“He has the most who has the least.”

Diogenes the Cynic.

“Rich men sin. I eat roots.”


Timon of Athens is one of Shakespeare’s least popular plays, frequently maligned and infrequently performed.  It is the story of an impecunious philanthropist, Timon, who becomes a hard-bitten misanthrope.  Shakespeare may have written the play in collaboration with Thomas Middleton, a younger early seventeenth century playwright.  The play is uneven in style and schematic in structure, and its characters border on caricature.  Critics generally cite the difficulties of collaborating in explaining the shortcomings of the play.

The play is, however, highly dramatic, and offers opportunities for inspired acting.  Most interpretations and performances of the play tend to focus narrowly on its dramatic potential, especially the rantings of the disillusioned Timon.  But there is only so much shouting that an audience can take, so most critics dismiss the play as an also-ran in the Shakespeare canon.  I think, however, that the play has possibilities that are usually overlooked.

The play isn’t all shouting.  It includes significant moral controversy among the main characters, and is filled with slyly satirical and cynical repartee.  The text even implies some slapstick among the characters.  Given recognition of the moral issues and comic direction, the play can be thought provoking and very funny.  Most interpreters, however, slide over the moral debates among its characters, and the humorous possibilities in their interactions.  I think this is a mistake, and that the play has more humor and intellectual depth than is usually recognized.

The play is set in late fifth century BCE Athens, a time of political, philosophical, military, and commercial upheaval in the city-state.  This era is commonly called the Golden Age of Classical Greek history, the time of Socrates, Plato, Diogenes, and Aristotle in philosophy, Pericles and the Thirty Tyrants in politics, and Sophocles, Euripides, and Aristophanes in theater.  It was the era in which Western ideas of democracy were first developed, but in which democracy was also threatened by demagogues and strongmen.

Athens was a society that jealously guarded the liberties of the few who were freemen, but kept in thrall the many who were servants and slaves.  Athens was both the center of most of the Greek political and cultural developments that we respect today, but was also a brutal military and imperial power enmeshed in the seemingly endless Peloponnesian War.  It was both a highly cultured society, and a society in which gold was often seen as the measure of a man.

There are four main characters in the play: the philanthropist turned misanthrope Timon, who goes from riches to rags and then back to riches, but not back to good humor; the cynical philosopher Apemantus, who continually criticizes Timon even as he cares about him; the pompous military leader Alcibiadus, whose pride goeth before a fall and then rises again; and Timon’s honest steward Flavius, who sticks with Timon through thick and thin.

Each of the four characters represents, I believe, an important position in the moral and philosophical debates of the fifth and fourth centuries BCE in Greece, particularly with respect to the all-important question of “Whom can you trust?”  The positions represented by the characters were also important in the philosophical debates of Shakespeare’s time, which is why, I think, they are represented in the play, and they continue to be important in our debates about morality and society today.

Although most critics think it is a source of weakness in the play that it was the product of a collaboration, I think the likelihood that Shakespeare wrote it with someone else exemplifies a main theme of the play: How can you find honest people, and live collaboratively with people you can trust?  Shakespeare was, in effect, attempting to practice what he was portraying.

The characters of Timon and Alcibiadus represent actual historical figures who lived in fifth century BCE Greece.  Timon of Athens was a former general and one-time wealthy man, who was legendary among contemporaries for his misanthropy.  It has been conjectured that Shakespeare combined in the character of Timon in this play some of the ideas of Timon of Philus, a late fourth century follower of Pyrrho, the father of Skepticism in philosophy.[2]

Skeptics believed in nothing and no one, and that nothing and no one could be shown to be true or good.  They insisted that “all lines of reasoning must be circular or endless” and, thus, intellectually empty.[3]  Skeptics also rejected the very idea of society as well as the company of men.  Whether or not Shakespeare had Timon of Philus in mind when he wrote the play, his Timon seems to represent this Pyrrrhonian philosophy when he turns misanthropic.

Alcibiadus was a well-educated, well-spoken aristocrat and a highly-regarded Athenian general, but was also a notoriously corrupt government official.  He was a turncoat who successfully fought on behalf of Athens several times, but also fought against Athens in the pay of Sparta and Persia.  Alcibiadus was a favorite pupil of Socrates, who ostensibly tried in vain to induce him to mend his ways.  He appears as a philosophical disputant in several of Plato’s dialogues and in the writings of others of that period.  Alcibiadus was arrogant and anti-democratic.  It was said of him that instead of believing that he should conform to the laws of Athens, he felt that Athens ought to conform to his way of life.  The known facts and character of the actual Alcibiadus seem to fit the character of Alcibiadus in the play.[4]

Apemantus is a fictional character, but bears a striking resemblance to Diogenes the Cynic, both in behavior and ideas.  Diogenes was a critic of the commercialism, consumerism, and stale conventions of Greek society.  Unlike the Skeptics, however, he did not reject all men, all society or the possibility of truth and truthfulness.  He claimed to be constantly looking for an honest man, someone who stood up to and apart from the phoniness of the existing society.  Diogenes preached and practiced a simple, and even ascetic, way of life.  He was perhaps the first hippie.

Diogenes was a contemporary and antagonist of Plato.  He had little patience for abstract and ethereal theories such as Plato’s, and he judged things by their effects and people by their actions.  He eschewed parochialism and pride of position or place.  He believed that one should consider oneself “to be a kosmopolites, a citizen of the world.”[5]  The ideas and practices of Diogenes seem to fit the character of Apemantus.  Apemantus is frequently called a dog by other characters in the play.  So was Diogenes in real life.  Cynic is the Greek word for dog, which Diogenes adopted as the name of his philosophy, and Apemantus also accepts in good grace.[6]

Flavius seems to represent the ideal servant as described by Aristotle.  Aristotle believed that some men were made to serve others.  They were natural servants or slaves.  The ideal servant identifies with his master, and gains his being through serving his master.[7]  Without his master, the servant is nothing, like a house elf in the Harry Potter books.  Flavius seems to genuinely care about Timon, but his loyalty also seems more programmed than personal.

Harold Goddard describes Flavius as “the truest man in the play, one of the truest in all of Shakespeare.”[8]  Other critics fault Flavius for failing to stand up to his master when Timon is squandering his fortune.  As Timon’s steward, they say, Flavius should have not merely mentioned Timon’s financial problems to his master, as he repeatedly did, but should have insisted that Timon cease and desist.[9]  I think that both assessments miss the point that Flavius is so true to Timon because he has been brainwashed to be an ideal servant and, in turn, that Flavius’ servant mentality would not permit him to take a critical position toward his master.

Reading the Play as It Is Written.

“There is only a finger’s difference between a wise man and a fool.”

Diogenes the Cynic.

“He may look like an idiot and talk like an idiot but don’t let that fool you.  He is an idiot.”

Groucho Marx.

Although the interplay among the four main characters is complex, the plot of the play is simple in structure.  In the first part of the play, Timon is a man of seemingly immense and endless wealth, with gold pieces and golden objects abounding about him.  Despite warnings from his steward Flavius about the precariousness of his financial health, Timon gives away all he has and runs into debt as a result of his overweening generosity.  Timon is then forced to ask for help from his former beneficiaries, but they all refuse him, much to his intense humiliation.

Throughout this first part of the play, Apemantus repeatedly chides Timon for being self-centered and selfish in his excessive generosity, which Apemantus condemns as an egotistical play for flattery.  Meanwhile, Alcibiadus experiences humiliation when the Athenian government refuses to spare the life of one of his soldiers who had murdered someone.  As a great general who had served Athens, he felt that the government owed him that respect.  The officials insist that the law must be followed, and Alcibiadus vows revenge against Athens.

In the second part of the play, Timon rails at the ingratitude and wickedness of humankind in explosive terms.  Flavius stays loyal to Timon through the bad times, even though his help is spurned by Timon.  Apemantus now chides Timon for being self-centered and selfish in his excessive misanthropy, which Apemantus sees as an egotistical play for sympathy.

In a stroke of good fortune, Timon discovers gold which makes him rich again.  But instead of resorting to his generous ways, he uses the wealth to finance what he hopes will be the destruction of Athens.  He gives money to thieves he encourages to plunder the city, pox-ridden prostitutes who will infect the citizens with venereal disease, shyster businessmen who will cheat the Athenians, and Alcibiadus’ army which will destroy the place.  The play closes with Timon’s death and Alcibiadus’ decision to execute only those Athenian officials who had offended him, and not to destroy Athens and kill all of its inhabitants, as he had previously vowed to do.

This a pretty flimsy plot for a Shakespearean play.  In trying to make something substantial of it, critics and directors of the play tend to focus on the woes and woefulness of Timon and, in the hands of a good actor, the character of Timon can easily dominate the play and make for a worthwhile performance.  Timon, who is all sunshine and bonhomie in the first half of the play, and a thunderstorm of vitriol in the second half, offers wide scope for dramatic virtuosity.

In a performance of the play that I recently saw in 2017 at the Stratford Festival, Joseph Ziegler was a terrific Timon.  But I think the production did not mine most of the humor and intellectual depth that is embedded in the play.  A narrow focus on Timon can lead you to miss the underlying subtleties and complexities that can make Timon of Athens a thought and laugh-provoking drama, and not merely an emotional deluge.  It can also lead you astray in interpreting the actual words of the play.

The highly-regarded critic Harold Goddard, for example, made three key claims about the play.  First, that the play has a “central theme of ingratitude.”  Second, that the play ends with a “final note of forgiveness and reconciliation.”  And, third, that the moral of the play is the “idea that misery leads to illumination.”[10]  But, I don’t think this interpretation makes sense of what is said and done in the play.

As to the first claim, while the play is full of ingrates, with whom Timon justifiably has grievances, none of them plays a central role in the drama.  The other three central characters – Apemantus, Alcibiadus and Flavius – are not ingrates.  They are loyal to Timon.  Each also represents a different attitude toward humankind and the world than Timon, which makes for a real moral debate that Goddard does not mention.

As to the second claim, as the play ends, Alcibiadus decides not to destroy Athens as he had vowed.  Goddard claims, in interpreting this scene, that “The play ends with Alcibiadus freely relenting from his plan for revenge and bringing peace rather than war to Athens.”[11]   But this interpretation flies in the face of what Alcibiadus actually says and does.

In the key words in this scene, which are generally overlooked by critics and slurred over by actors, Alcibiadus conditions his clemency with the demand that the Athenians turn over to him those members of the government who had insulted him and, he proclaims, “Those enemies of Timon’s and mine own Whom you will set out for reproof Fall.”  That is, they will die.  The price for Alcibiadus sparring Athens from wholesale slaughter is the summary execution of those Althenians who had ostensibly humiliated him.  Rather than an act of forgiveness and reconciliation, this seems like a final note of vengefulness and revenge on the part of Alcibiadus,

Alcibiadus then closes the play with a statement of what he sees as the moral of the story: “Make war breed peace, make peace stint war, make each prescribe to the other as each other’s leech.  Let our drums strike.”  Goddard claims that these are words of peace, but they are really words of war.  Alcibiadus says here that peace may only “stint” war, that is, put limits on it, and maybe bring about temporary truces.  But, he is also essentially proclaiming that war is the natural state of things.  And then he has his army march into Athens to the beat of his war drums.

As Goddard’s third claim, about learning from misery being the moral of the story, neither Timon nor anyone else in the play seems to have learned anything from the misery that he and some of the others have suffered.  Timon’s self-composed epitaph reflects the same egotism that he displayed throughout the play, albeit magnified by the bitterness of his misanthropy.  It reads:

Here lies a wretched corse, of wretched soul bereft.

Seek not my name.  A plague consume you, wicked caitiffs left!

Here lie I, Timon, who, alive, all living men did hate.

Pass by and curse thy fill, but pass and stay not thy gait.

Opening the epitaph with a pathetic bout of self-pity, Timon then falsely claims that everyone hated him.  That is patently untrue.  Many people humiliated Timon by refusing to lend him money, but they did not hate him.  And some people, particularly Apemantus, Alcibiadus and Flavius, continued to love him and try to help him, even as he rejected them.  It is he who rejected them, not they who rejected him.  In the midst of this mawkishness, Timon first commands that people not seek his name, and let him rest in anonymous peace, but then tells them his name is Timon.  Timon’s egotism seemingly gets the better of him even in death.

One of the great things about any great playwright is that his/her works can be read, interpreted, and performed in many different legitimate ways, because there is more in a work than meets the eye on a first, second or subsequent glance.  But, the written words are a limiting factor in interpreting any literary work.  In the case of Timon of Athens, I think that in trying to see the play as a melodrama or tragedy, and as a morality tale with Timon and Alcibiadus as the carriers of the moral, even some of the best critics and directors have been led astray.

Interpreting the Play as It Is Written and Unwritten.

“Of what use is a philosopher who doesn’t hurt anybody’s feelings?”

Diogenes the Cynic.

“O, Apemantus, you are welcome [here]!”

Timon of Athens.

“No. You shall not make me welcome.  I came to have you throw me out of doors.”


Interpreters of Timon of Athens generally agree that it is the story of an unrepentant egotist, who credits himself with his good fortune, and then blames his misfortune on others.[12]  With this I agree.  But critics also almost invariably see the play as a one-dimensional mass of howling, full of sound and fury, and signifying very little.  In this, I disagree.

“There could scarcely be more railing and cursing in five acts than we have here,” complained Charles Van Doren, who claimed the play reflects Shakespeare’s own late-life bitterness unleashed.[13]  Frank Kermode, similarly, dismissed the play as King Lear-light, full of Lear-like ranting about ingratitude, but without the dignity of the original.[14]

John Kelly titled his review of the play as “Feeling Like a Misanthrope? Here’s Shakespeare’s Guide to Swearing Like One.”  Kelley also claimed the play went nowhere.  “Timon remains as egocentric in his misanthropy as he was in his profligate, flattery-seeking munificence,” Kelley complained, so what’s the point of all the shouting?[15]  Michael Wood concluded that the play came off poorly because Shakespeare’s heart was not in it, since the play is about a misanthrope and Shakespeare was not himself a misanthrope.[16]

The foundation of these views is the singular focus of the critics on Timon as the moral, emotional and intellectual center of the play.  It is, after all, named after Timon.  In their focus on Timon, critics also often conflate his views with those of Apemantus.  Frank Kermode claims Apemantus is “repulsive,” and complains that he had set a bad example for Timon.  Peter Leithart calls him “Ape-man,” and claims that Timon merely follows in Apemantus’ footsteps when he becomes a misanthrope.[17]  Another critic complains that Apemantus is “a snarling nasty man who insults everybody he meets without appearing to derive any pleasure from doing so,” and yet another that he is a “churlish cynical philosopher,” who contributes nothing to Timon or society.[18]  Critics also generally dismiss Flavius.  He is totally “hapless” says Kermode.[19]

I disagree with these assessments.  I think that Apemantus and Flavius offer significant moral alternatives to Timon’s misanthropy and Alcibiadus’ militarism.  It is not the case that Timon apes Apemantus when he turns misanthrope, and Apemantus specifically rejects the comparison.  When Timon begins railing in the wilderness about his misfortune, Apemantus accosts Timon and complains that “men report Thou dost affect my manners, and dost use them.”  Apemantus then diagnoses Timon’s condition as “a nature but infected; A poor unmanly melancholy sprung,” and chastises Timon with the question “Art thou proud yet?”  He is saying that Timon’s misanthropy is a form of egoism.  Apemantus’ cynicism is a matter of principle.

I think that Apemantus can be seen as representing what it takes to be an honest freeman in a thoroughly dishonest society.  This was an important question in Shakespeare’s society and in many of Shakespeare’s plays.  With the demise of feudalism and feudal codes of honor, and the rise of capitalism and commercial codes of exchange, questions of honesty and honor were as urgent to Shakespeare and his contemporaries as they had been to Diogenes in Timon’s day.

Apemantus, who values honesty over gold, is, I believe, the moral center of the play.  Flavius is his counterpart among servants.  Both demonstrate a fundamental humility, as opposed to the egotism and arrogance of both Timon and Alcibiadus. Humility is an attitude and a modus operandus in which people put themselves at the service of the other people, without denigrating themselves.  In fact, one can only really put oneself at the service of another if one has a positive sense of oneself and one’s abilities.  Otherwise, one would have nothing to offer the other person.  Humility of necessity incorporates self-awareness and self-confidence.

That is the case with both Apemantus and Flavius.  Apemantus tells all and sundry what he thinks, but does not put on airs.  To the contrary, he appears with high words but in lowly guise, and with no apparent ambition other than to expose the falseness of the fakers around him, to serve them as they deserve in hopes that they might later deserve better.  Likewise, Flavius desires only to serve his master, with no expectation of gain or even gratitude.  And given their humility, neither of Apemantus nor Flavius craves flattery, and neither is humiliated by the scorn and rejection with which they are greeted by most of other characters in the play.  That is not the case with Timon and Alcibiadus, both of whom desperately need to be flattered, and both of whom suffer from humiliation when they don’t get enough of it.

Without claiming that Timon of Athens is Shakespeare at his best, I think that most interpreters and directors get the play wrong when they take Timon’s rantings at face value, and present the play as an odd sort of melodrama, or even a tragedy.  Timon’s are the rantings of an egotistical idiot – idiot from the ancient Greek “idiotes,” meaning someone who is cut off from social reality and completely caught up in himself — and they are funny on their face.  Timon is a fool, and his plight is the stuff of comedy, not melodrama, let alone tragedy.[20]  In sum, I think the play is funnier and more profound than most critics and directors seem to recognize.  What follows are some suggestions as to how the play might be interpreted and performed in that light.

First and foremost, Apemantus should be portrayed as a sort of philosophical Groucho Marx.  He is like the wandering philosopher Jacques in As You Like It, but more humorous and more pointed.  His insults and tirades should be presented as sarcastic jibes at the pretentions and callousness of his fellow citizens.  He should speak with more facetiousness than bitterness.  Although his words are harsh, Apemantus clearly cares for Timon and, by implication, for others in distress.  He keeps returning to Timon, and refuses Timon’s generosity because “if I should be bribed too, there would be none to rail upon thee, and then thou wouldst sin the faster.”

Apemantus should be onstage most of the time, lurking about, and commenting in pantomime on the action, even in scenes in which he has no spoken part.  He should make faces and rude gestures at the pompous and the prosperous, and mockingly mimic them.  In pantomime, Apemantus should occasionally try to trip up some of the Athenians who prey on Timon, but also help up an old lady, and help some poor man with alms from his own small store of coins.

The Athenians who prey upon Timon’s generosity in the first half of the play should be dressed in conventional clothes, but altered to resemble some predator animal.  They should also have some beak-like nose, or long sharp teeth, or claw-like fingers.  The thieves, prostitutes, and soldiers whom Timon encourages to prey upon Athens in the second half of the play should likewise be dressed and made up to look like savage beasts, the thieves like werewolves, the prostitutes like harpies, the soldiers like Black Shirts.

Since this is a play about Greece at the time when dramatic theater was being invented, there should be a chorus on stage, as there would have been in a Greek play of that period.  The chorus might consist of eight people, two hippies, two government officials, two soldiers, and two servants.  The members of the chorus should comment in pantomime throughout the play according to the interests and ideas of the social group they represent.

Apemantus and other characters in the play should silently interact with members of the chorus, chatting, laughing, mocking, and generally making a silent nuisance of themselves.  At the end of the play, the two government officials in the chorus should be led off by the two soldiers in the chorus to be shot personally by Alcibiadus.  The executions should be in view of the audience, and to the visible dismay of Apemantus and the remaining members of the chorus.

Timon’s behavior in both acts should be exaggerated to make him seem outlandish.  Other than Apemantus, Alcibiadus and Flavius, who actually care for Timon, the other Athenians should be seen mocking and laughing at him behind his back.  He should, however, be played as pathetically ridiculous, and thus entitled to some sympathy, whereas the others should be played as pompously and greedily outrageous, gaudily dressed and affected in their mannerisms.

Many of the scenes in the play are ridiculous in their setup, but are not usually played for either their laughs or their moral messages.  The scene in which Timon gives gold to thieves who he hopes will plunder Athens and prostitutes to spread venereal disease among the citizens is an example. This is farce on its face.  But in the performance that I recently saw at Stratford, this scene was played as pathetic serious instead of pathetic farce, as I think it deserves.

The opening scene of the play is another example.  In this opening scene, a poet and a painter are discussing their latest works that they hope to sell to Timon, a poem in his praise and a portrait that makes him look better than he is.  The poet is a predator, but he speaks some truth when he predicts Timon’s downfall when Timon runs out of money, and proclaims that flattery is a better way to win friends than buying them with money.

The poet also justifies his flattering of Timon for gold by claiming that it is morally acceptable to beautify a noble subject, so long as you don’t whitewash an evil or ignoble one.  Since one of the features of Greek art of the Golden Age in which the play is set was its idealization of the human body, his rationale for greed has seemingly some half aesthetic truth to it. It also might reflect the thinking of poets and artists in Shakespeare’s age who produced works-to-order that flattered wealthy patrons.  Apemantus rejects this rationale, and I think this is an early indication in the play that he is speaking for Shakespeare.  Rather than expressing Shakespeare’s late-life bitterness, as Van Doren thought, maybe the play represents a reemergence of youthful rebelliousness in him.

Playing Timon of Athens as schtick not only would make it funnier and fun, it would have the effect of highlighting the moral and philosophical issues embedded in the play.  The key is to reverse the moral light in which the four main characters are seen in conventional interpretations of the play.  Instead of casting Timon’s complaints about ingratitude, and Alcibiadus’ complaints that he doesn’t get any respect, in a positive light, while denigrating Apemantus and Flavius, the latter two characters should be cast in a positive and respectful light, and the former two demeaned.  Timon should be played as a pathetic fool and Alcibiadus as a would-be dictator.  The characters say the same words, but the tone of voice and gestures are different.

For example, in the scene in which Alcibiadus asks the Athenian government to pardon his soldier who has been convicted of murder, Alcibiadus is often played as pleading and heartrending, and the Athenians as cold and rigidly hardhearted.  This is the way it was played in the recent performance that I saw at the Stratford Festival.  The key line uttered by one of the Athenians is “He dies,” and it was declaimed coldly and harshly in the performance that I saw.  It was well played and chilling in its effect.  But, I think that a better way to play the scene is to have Alcibiadus say his lines as self-important demands and thinly-veiled threats, and to have the Athenians respond in sympathetic voice.  The line “He dies” can be said by the official with a tone of reluctance, and a shrug that says: “There is nothing I can do about it. It is the law.”

Reversing the moral light forces you to take seriously the things that Apemantus says and, as a consequence, listen more carefully and critically to what Timon and Alcibiadus say.  I think that many of Shakespeare’s plays work in this way.  The name of a Shakespearean play does not necessarily indicate who is the moral center, or even the main character, and the moral center may not be a perfect person.  In The Merchant of Venice, it is Shylock, not the merchant Antonio, who is the main character and, I think, the imperfect moral center of the play.[21]  In Henry IV, it is Hal who is the main character and an imperfect moral center.   In Hamlet, I think the moral center is Horatio, not Hamlet.[22]  So, too, in Timon of Athens, it is Apemantus who is the imperfect moral center, even though Timon gets the headline and most of the speaking lines.  

The combination of schtick and ironic moral reversal is a time-honored way of dramatically raising moral and philosophical issues, from Aristophanes in Timon’s time, to Moliere in Shakespeare’s day, to the Marx Brothers in our era.  In A Night at the Opera, for example, the cynical and sarcastic Groucho, Chico and Harpo emerge as the moral heroes, despite their incorrigible and inconsiderate misbehavior.  Compared to their opponents, they demonstrate empathy and integrity.  Ridiculing everyone else, as Groucho and Apemnatus do, can leave the ridiculer in the moral driver’s seat.

Timon of Athens does not end happily, and not only because Timon dies alone and unregenerate.  The play ends with Alcibiadus murdering Athenian officials for merely having followed the law and doing their duty, and with Alcibiadus then occupying Athens with his army, and seemingly taking control of the city-state as a military dictator.  At that point, Apemantus should be seen exiting the stage in the opposite direction of Alcibiadus, with a tear in his eye and shaking his head, the chorus standing in place and in visible bewilderment.

BW 7/11/17


[1] It is Apemantus and Timon.  As goofy as the Marx Brothers were, I don’t remember any instances where they used Elizabethanisms such as “thou,” “thee,” and “wert.”  The point of the comparison is that Shakespeare was willing and able to engage in schtick repartee, and that Timon of Athens is a comedic work.  More to come on that.


[3] Anthony Kenny. A New History of Western Philosophy. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2010. p.82.  Julian Marias. History of Philosophy. New York: Dover Publications, 1967. p.96.

[4] Anthony Kenny. A New History of Western Philosophy. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2010. p.34.

[5] Julian Marias. History of Philosophy. New York: Dover Publications, 1967. p.89.

[6] Anthony Kenny. A New History of Western Philosophy. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2010. p.80.

[7] Julian Marias. History of Philosophy. New York: Dover Publications, 1967. p.84.  Jonathan Barnes.  Aristotle: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000. p.129.

[8] Harold Goddard. The Meaning of Shakespeare, Vol 2. “Timon of Athens.”  p.179.


[10] Harold Goddard. The Meaning of Shakespeare, Vol 2. “Timon of Athens.”  p.174.

[11] Harold Goddard. The Meaning of Shakespeare, Vol 2. “Timon of Athens.” p.181.

[12] Lindsay Lichti. Inquirers Journal. “Shakespeare’s Apemantus.” Vol.2, No.83, 2010.  Michael Billington. the guardian. “Timon of Athens.’ 7/17/2010.

[13] Charles Van Doren.   p.253.

[14] Frank Kermode. The Age of Shakespeare. New York: Modern Library, 2005. p.167.

[15] John Kelly. Slate. “Feeling Like a Misanthrope? Here’s Shakespeare’s Guide to Swearing Like One.” 7/19/16.

[16] Michael Wood.  Shakespeare. New York: Basic Books, 2003. p.291.

[17] Peter J. Leithart. “’Plague All”: Timon of Athens.” First Things.  1/25/05.  John Kelly. Slate. “Feeling Like a Misanthrope? Here’s Shakespeare’s Guide to Swearing Like One.” 7/19/16.  Lindsay Lichti. Inquirers Journal. “Shakespeare’s Apemantus.” Vol.2, No.83, 2010.

[18]Frank Kermode. The Age of Shakespeare. New York: Modern Library, 2005. pp.167, 168.  Peter J. Leithart. “’Plague All”: Timon of Athens.” First Things.  1/25/05. “Timon of Athens Characters. Apemantus.”  John Kelly. Slate. “Feeling Like a Misanthrope? Here’s Shakespeare’s Guide to Swearing Like One.” 7/19/16.  See also, Barbara Mackay. TheaterMania. “Timon of Athens.”

[19] Frank Kermode. The Age of Shakespeare. New York: Modern Library, 2005. pp.167, 168.

[20] Michael Wood.  Shakespeare. New York: Basic Books, 2003. p.290.

[21] I have written an essay on this which appears on this blog site.  It is called “Shakespeare, Shylock and the Jewish Question in Elizabethan England.”

[22] I have written an essay on this blog site that discusses this point.  It is called “Better Dead than Red:  Hamlet and the Cold War against Catholicism in Elizabethan England.”



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