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Shakspeare undoubtedly formed this play on the passage in Plutarch's Life of Antony relative to Timon, and not on the twentyeighth novel of the first volume of Painter's Palace of Pleasure; because he is there merely described as “a man-hater, of a strange and beastly nature,” without any cause assigned; whereas Plutarch furnished our author with the following hint to work upon : “ Antonius forsook the citie, and companie of his friendes,--saying, that he would lead Timon's life, because he had the like wrong offered him, that was offered unto Timon; and for the unthankfulness of those he had done good unto, and whom he tooke to be his friendes, he was angry with all men, and would trust no man.”
To the manuscript play mentioned by Mr. Steevens, our author, I have no doubt, was also indebted for some other circumstances. Here he found the faithful steward, the banquet-scene, and the story of Timon's being possessed of great sums of gold which he had dug up in the woods : a circumstance which he could not have had from Lucian, there being then no translation of the dialogue that relates to this subject.
Spon says, there is a building near Athens, yet remaining, called Timon's Tower. Timon of Athens was written, I imagine, in the year 1610.
Timon, a noble Athenian.
two of Timon's Creditors.
Mistresses to Alcibiades.
Other Lords, Senators, Officers, Soldiers, Thieves,
SCENE, Athens ; and the Woods adjoining.
Phrynia,] (or as this name should have been written by Shakspeare, Phryne,) was an Athenian courtezan so exquisitely beautiful, that when her judges were proceeding to condemn her for numerous and enormous offences, a sight of her bosom (which as we learn from Quintilian, had been artfully denuded by her advocate,) disarmed the court of its severity, and secured her life from the sentence of the law. STBEVENS.
SCENE I. Athens. A Hall in Timon's House.
Enter Poet, Painter, Jeweller, Merchant, and
Others, at several Doors.
I am glad you are well.
Ay, that's well known:
Pain. I know them both; t'other's a jeweller.
Nay, that's most fix'd.
were, To an untirable and continuate goodness: He passes.
Jew. I have a jewel here.
1 - breath'd, as it were,] Breathed is inured by constant practice; so trained as not to be wearied. To breathe a horse, is to exércise' him for the course." JOIINSON, · He passes.] i. e. exceeds, goes beyond common bounds.
Mer. O, pray, let's see't: For the lord Timon,
Jew. If he will touch the estimate:3 But, for
thatPoet. When we for recompense* have prais'd the
'Tis a good form.
[Looking at the Jewel. Jew. And rich: here is a water, look you. Pain. You are rapt, sir, in some work, some de
dication To the great lord. Poet.
A thing slipp'd idly from me. Our
poesy is as a gum, which oozes
'Tis a good piece.
touch the estimate:] Come up to the price. 4 IVhen we for recompense, &c.] We must here suppose
the poet busy in reading in his own work; and that these three lines are the introduction of the poem addressed to Timon, which he afterwards gives the Painter an account of. WARBURTON.
and, like the current, flies Each bound it chafes.] This jumble of incongruous images, seems to have been designed, and put into the mouth of the Poetaster, that the reader might appreciate his talents: his language therefore should not be considered in the abstract.
Speaks his own standing! what a mental power
Pain. It is a pretty mocking of the life.
I'll say of it,
Enter certain Senators, and pass over.
Pain. How shall I understand you?
I'll unbolt? to you.
-artificial strife-] Strife is the contest of art with nature.
? Halts not particularly,] My design does not stop at any single character. Johnson.
8 In a wide sea of wax:] Anciently they wrote upon waxen tables with an iron style.
no levell’d malice, &c.] To level is to aim, to point the shot at a mark. Shakspeare's meaning is, my poem is not a satire written with any particular view, or levelled at any single person; I fly like an eagle into the general expanse of lifs, and leave not, by any private mischief, the trace of my passage.
l'ü unbolt -] I'll open, I'll explain. Johnson.