Study Guide

The Life of Timon of Athens Act 2, Scene 2

By William Shakespeare

Act 2, Scene 2

Read the full text of The Life of Timon of Athens Act 2 Scene 2 with a side-by-side translation HERE.

  • When Caphis shows up at Timon's house, he's not the only one ready to cash in. Isidore's and Varro's servants have also come to get Timon to pay his bills.
  • Flavius is worried out of his mind. He knows his master doesn't have the dough to pay these men, but he doesn't want to embarrass him in front of everyone. He and Timon exit to have a little chat.
  • Together, Apemantus and the Fool enter and discuss what's going down.
  • We interrupt this programming for a history snack: a licensed fool is a guy who literally has a license to say whatever he wants without getting into trouble (like Feste in Twelfth Night and the Fool in King Lear). Paid fools were pretty common in noble households in Shakespeare's day.
  • The Fool is only at Timon's briefly, but he stays long enough to make some comparisons between creditors waiting for money and men waiting for prostitutes. He points out that these men might go away happy, and the men dealing with the "whoremaster" might go away sad, but both are doing the exact same thing: they're taking from people.
  • Timon and Flavius come back on stage and shoo everyone else off so they can be alone.
  • Timon and Flavius talk about what to do. Timon is ticked that Flavius didn't let him in on the situation sooner. Flavius says that's not fair because he really tried; Timon just wouldn't listen.
  • So Timon is left with no option but to sell his lands and give away all his money.
  • But Flavius has even more bad news: all of Timon's stuff is gone, because he's already given it all away to people. Yep, even his house and land has been promised away.
  • Then Timon has a brilliant idea. He'll ask all of his friends to pitch in. After all, he's covered them loads of times. They'll step up for him this time, right?
  • Timon sends servants to ask Lucius, Lucullus, and Sempronius for money, and then tells Flavius to go to the Senators. 
  • That's when Flavius drops the bombshell. He already asked everybody for cash. They all just shrugged and said, "Too bad, so sad."
  • Timon can't believe it. No, he really can't believe it: he doesn't even think it's possible.
  • Then he remembers that he just recently cleared his friend Ventidius's name of debt. Surely he will come to Timon's rescue, right?
  • Timon delivers a super important message to Flavius. It goes a little something like: "Don't think that just because I seem poor now that I am. It'll all work out."
  • After Timon exits, Flavius says he wishes he could not think that. Unfortunately, it seems pretty likely that Timon's wealth is a thing of the past.