This controversial play follows the declining fortunes of a man of extravagant contradictions.
The fabulously rich Timon believes all his friends to be as open-hearted and generous as himself. When his wealth suddenly evaporates, however, he discovers the truth and his altruism turns to a bitter hatred of mankind. Stirred up by the cynical Apemantus, Timon retreats to the woods where he plots the destruction of Athens, the city that had formerly seemed to embody everything pleasurable and civilized. The cosmic scope of his hatred is communicated in a series of powerful and disturbing dramatic tableaux.
Alan Howard is Timon and Norman Rodway is Apemantus. Damian Lewis play Alcibiades.
“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 here thy gait.”
― William Shakespeare, Timon of Athens
A pretty straightforward problem play. Rich man gives away all his money and misjudges friends. Becomes a misanthrope. Finds a fortune and tries to destroy Athens. Some good, even great lines, but judged against Shakespeare's best (or hell, just judged by the books on either side) it doesn't quite seem upto par. I do think, however, it is under performed. Timon is a great character. The later Timon reminds me a bit of the Merchant of Venice. Sometimes, when I am in the right mood, Shakespeare's nihilistic plays (problem plays) seem to hit the right spot. When, however, I am feeling a bit better, they do seem a bit too dark and overly pessimistic about the human condition. This play is one of the least of his problem plays. It is dark, but just not the highest quality of pessimism. Spotty.
Some of the best lines:
― “Who lives that's not depraved or depraves?
Who dies, that bears not one spurn to their graves
Of their friends' gift?
I should fear those that dance before me now
Would one day stamp upon me: 't has been done;
Men shut their doors against a setting sun.” (Act 1, Scene 2).
― "O my good lord, the world is but a word:
Were it all yours to give it in a breath,
How quickly were it gone!” (Act 2, Scene 2).
― “Men must learn now with pity to dispense;
For policy sits above conscience.” (Act 3, Scene 2).
― "Look thee, 'tis so! Thou singly honest man,
Here, take: the gods out of my misery
Have sent thee treasure. Go, live rich and happy;
But thus condition'd: thou shalt build from men;
Hate all, curse all, show charity to none,
But let the famish'd flesh slide from the bone,
Ere thou relieve the beggar; give to dogs
What thou deny'st to men; let prisons swallow 'em,
Debts wither 'em to nothing; be men like
And may diseases lick up their false bloods!
And so farewell and thrive." (Act 4, Scene 3).
― "Would thou wert clean enough to spit upon!” (Act 4, Scene 3).
― "I’ll beat thee, but I should infect my hands.” (Act 4, Scene 3).
― "As the moon does, by wanting light to give:
But then renew I could not, like the moon;
There were no suns to borrow of.” (Act 4, Scene 3).
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What made the experience of listening to Timon of Athens the most enjoyable?
I love it when a lesser known play by Shakespeare gets the time and attention it deserves.
Who was your favorite character and why?
Alcibiades performed by Damien Lewis. I enjoy Damien Lewis!
Have you listened to any of the narrators’s other performances before? How does this one compare?
I have seen television shows and movies performed by Damien Lewis, this was the first audiobook I had heard him perform in.
Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?
I enjoyed Timon's plot to destroy Athens.