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Timon of Athens

William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare

Summary of the plot or story
Timon of Athens is a man who enjoys to please his friends and he does this by lavishing gifts on them. His 'friends', many notable people in the City of Athens, rush to gain his favour. They buy him small gifts - he repays them with big gifts.

He ignores the warnings about false friends from the philosopher Apemantus and his extravagance catches up with him in the end when is faced with unpaid bills. When asked for help his 'friends' ignore him. He sends invitations to the Athenians to a 'banquet' and uses the occasion to berate them for being false and he leaves Athens a poor but wiser man.

The hero finds gold and becomes rich once again and befriends General Alcibiades who has also been treated badly by the Athenians. He provides the money for the General to wage war against the Athenians and seek revenge for their falseness. The story continues with various people visiting Timon with differing motives. The Athenians beg General Alcibiades for mercy. Timon then dies and a soldier brings the General a copy of the inscription on his gravestone...

Information provided about the play
William Shakespeare never published any of his plays and therefore none of the original manuscripts have survived. Eighteen unauthorised versions of his plays were, however, published during his lifetime in quarto editions by unscrupulous publishers (there were no copyright laws protecting Shakespeare and his works during the Elizabethan era). A collection of his works did not appear until 1623 (a full seven years after Shakespeare's death on April 23, 1616) when two of his fellow actors, John Hemminges and Henry Condell, posthumously recorded his work and published 36 of Williamís plays in the First Folio. Some dates are therefore approximate other dates are substantiated by historical events, records of performances and the dates plays appeared in print.

Date first performed
It is believed that the play was first performed between 1607-1608. In the Elizabethan era there was a huge demand for new entertainment and Timon of Athens would have been produced immediately following the completion of the play.

Date first printed
It is believed that the script was first printed in 1623, as part of the First Folio. As William Shakespeare clearly did not want his work published details of the play would have therefore been noted, and often pirated without his consent, following a performance.

The setting for Timon of Athens
The setting for the play is Athens, Greece

The play is categorised as a Tragedy

Number of words in Timon of Athens
The number of words in the script, according to the Complete Public Domain Text is 19,772.

Most important characters in Timon of Athens
The most important characters are:
Timon, Apemantus and General Alcibiades

Famous Quotes / Quotations from Timon of Athens
The quote from the drama is amongst one of Shakespeare's most famous 'We have seen better days'. Details of thus famous quote follows, complete with information regarding the Act and the Scene, allowing a quick reference to the section of the play that this quotation can be found in. Please click here for the full text of the script of the play.

"We have seen better days". - (Act IV, Scene II).

History of Timon of Athens
It was based on real lovers who lived in Verona, Italy who died for each other in the year 1303. At that time the Capulets and Montagues were among the inhabitants of Verona. 

William Shakespeare's Main Source
Shakespeare probably found Inspiration for the Timon of Athens in The Misanthrope, by Lucian (125-200)

The Cast and Characters
Click the link to access a list of all the cast and characters of Timon of Athens.

Full text - script of Timon of Athens play by William Shakespeare
Cast and characters in Timon of Athens play by William Shakespeare
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