Study Guide

The Life of Timon of Athens Act 5, Scene 1

By William Shakespeare

Act 5, Scene 1

Read the full text of The Life of Timon of Athens Act 5 Scene 1 with a side-by-side translation HERE.


  • Word around the water cooler is that Timon still has his wealth and is lying low in the woods. The Poet and Painter have heard it, and they've come to find out if it's true.
  • The Poet and Painter haven't brought any paintings or poems to present to Timon, though: that would be silly. They're just going to promise those pieces of artwork to him and take his money.
  • Overhearing this, Timon delivers a killer aside to the audience. The men "canst not paint a man so bad as is thyself." Translation: you're evil and nasty, and you're not getting a penny outta me.
  • Timon lets us in on the plan: he'll pretend to bump into the Poet and Painter accidentally and play them.
  • When Timon greets his visitors face-to-face, he pretends to be glad to see them.
  • There's some more sucking up before Timon asks the men if they're willing to eat roots and drink cold water.
  • The Poet and Painter say they're ready. They promise to do anything.
  • Timon doesn't buy it. He gets angry at their hypocrisy and beats them off the stage.
  • It looks like everyone's heard the news about Timon living in the woods because soon after that, Flavius comes back with two Senators in tow.
  • The Senators want to take Timon back to Athens and give him some help. After all, people were really ungrateful to Timon for all he gave them before. Plus, it would really help them out: Alcibiades is on the verge of destroying Athens, and they're sure Timon's presence would change all that.
  • Timon doesn't really care if Alcibiades kills his countrymen or not—it's not like they've been nice to him or anything.
  • Besides, Timon's really busy right now. He's writing his epitaph because it's most likely he'll die soon. Gee, what a nice way of putting it.
  • He seems to throw the Senators a bone when he says, "But you know, I do still love my country." He says he can help the men of Athens avoid Alcibiades' wrath. All they have to do to stop the affliction is...hang themselves. Psych!
  • The Senators give up and leave. Timon tells them not to let the cave door hit them on the way out.