BB: Timon of Athens, Act III

artwork - Stephanie E.M. Coleman
artwork – Stephanie E.M. Coleman

(Podcast recorded and produced by Daniel J. Rowe, blog written and edited by Eric Jean)

Welcome back to the Bard Brawl! This week, Daniel J Rowe, ‘Mister’ Nicholas MacMahon and myself are back for act III of Shakespeare’s tragedy, Timon of Athens.

Listen to or download the podcast.

With creditors knocking at his door, Timon turns to his friends to lend him a little money so he can avoid bankruptcy. He sends his servants out to see the three lords who he feels pretty confident will be able to bail him out.

Flaminius arrives at lord Lucullus’ house in act III, scene 1. Lucullus greets Timon’s servant warmly as he expects that he is here to deliver some sort of gift. When he discovers that Flaminius is there to ask for money, Lucullus puts on his best ‘I told him not to be so generous’ act and then tries to bribe Flaminius so he’ll pretend he wasn’t able to find Lucullus. Flaminius tosses the cash back at Lucullus then curses him (and all other selfish jerks like him) to be boiled in a vat of molten coins.

The next lord to be visited is Lucilius. By the start of this scene, he has apparently heard that Lucullus refused to bail Timon out. He finds it deplorable and says that of Timon had turned to him instead, he would have been happy to help him. And on that cue, Servilius enters. Lucilius also seems to think that Timon’s servant is here offering gifts at first. When he finds out that Servilius is here to beg some cash for Timon, Lucilius replies that he would love to be able to help Timon out but – wouldn’t you know? – he just spent the last of his available funds this very morning, just before Servilius arrived. What an unfortunate coincidence.

Are all of Timon’s friends flattering jerks? Surely Sempronius isn’t like Lucius, Ventidius, or Lucullus? At the start of scene 3, Sempronius seems disgusted by the fact that the others lords have refused to help Timon. Even worse, Sempronius is disgusted that he wasn’t asked first, as this might suggest that maybe Timon doesn’t like him as well as the other lords. So, if Timon doesn’t care for him as much and his close friends refused to bail him out, why should Sempronius have to help him out? He proclaims to Timon’s servant that any man who would dishonour him in this way won’t get any help from him.

With no one left to ask for money, Timon has locked himself up in his house in scene 4. In a hall in his house, his creditor’s servants want to be paid. Seems that the servants aren’t too keen to be collecting from Timon when they know full well that their masters walk around with the jewellery that Timon once gave them. As they wait, Timon’s messengers return to announce that they have failed to get any money for Timon’s debts.

Timon eventually enters the hall in a rage and is greeted by the collectors’ bills. He offers to pay with his blood and flesh and chases the servants out of his house. Once they are gone, he asks his servants to invite all of his former friends back to his estate for one final banquet.

We leave Timon behind for a moment as scene 5 takes place in the Athenian senate-house and features the general Alcibiades. It appears that one of Alcibiades’ soldiers was involved in the violent crime in Athens. The law calls from his execution but Alcibiades, as his commanding officer, is here to beg the senate for leniency. The senate refuses. When Alcibiades is a little too insistent in his critique of the thanklessness of the Athenian senate, they banish him from the city despite all of the wars he fought for them. This should remind you of another general who was forced to turn his back on his city.

The last scene of the act takes place in Timon’s house. The lords have all arrived for the feats and are commenting that clearly Timon’s need for money must not have been so great as they have heard. Timon greet them all and escorts them into the dining room where for each guest is layed out a covered dish. The lords sit down, Timon curses all of Athens’ flattering lords, and once the covers are removed, each guest sees that their meal is warm water and rocks. Timon slashes the water in their ungrateful faces and then drives them out in a hail of stones.

The craziest part of the whole thing is that none of the lords seems to have a clue as to why Timon would be pissed at them…

Penniless and friendless, What’s next for Timon? Find out next week!

Sonnet 56 read from afar by Zoey Baldwin.

Shout out to the Segal Centre’s production of Othello in its last weekend and the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey’s upcoming Pericles from Dec. 4 – 29.


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