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MonkeyNotes-Timon of Athens by William Shakespeare
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Act Summaries With Notes

Act I

Scene 1

Summary

The scene is laid in the hall of Timonís house. As the curtain rises, one hears the conversation between the poet, painter, jeweler, and merchant.

As the action begins Timon exercises his Magic of bounty, that is, the power of generosity which is equal to the magicianís power. A reflection of world is clearly shown through the ways, which are quite familiar to those who live in it. The poet and the painter are conversing. The poet questions "How goes the world?" The painter answers, "it wears Sir as it passes away." This means that, the world is deteriorating with time. The poet compares his poetry to gum, which flows steadily and unlike the flint which, has to be struck to produce fire. What he means here is that, poetic inspiration does not needs external stimulus. The poet is eager to present his poem to Timon, the patron, and hopes that he will sponsor the publication.

The Senators of Athens happy men (I.i 40)

The poet envies the Senators for their position and because they are Timonís friends and equals. He implies the truth that the friends are attracted by Timonís wealth. The painter shows his painting and the poet praises him for bringing out in his picture Timonís superhuman virtues, that is his Ďmental power,í Ďbig imagination,í and his Ďgraceí- all real and impressive human qualities. The painter feels that painting is more expressive than poetry. Both the artist live by exploiting their art. When they finally gain audience with Timon, the poet shows his true appreciation for Timon. He, through his poem, warns Timon to watch out for those who are with him when the goddess of fortune is favorable to him. These very people might desert him when The Goddess turns her back to him.


The readers learn that, Timonís friend, Ventidius, is in prison for debt. Timon offers to pay five talents to release Ventidius. An old Athenian arrives at Timonís house. The old Athenian is against getting his daughter married to a penniless servant, Lucius, who is Timonís servant. He wants Timon to order his servant to stop meeting his daughter, as he does not consider Lucius fit to be his son-in-law. The old Athenian feels he should have a richer heir for his only daughter who is fair and young. Timon questions Lucilius of his love. After being assured of their love for each other, Timon tells the girlís father that he is going to give Lucius enough wealth to equal the dowry that he is going to give his daughter. That is, he is going to make Lucilius fit to be his son-in-law.

Apemantus a cynic philosopher enters the scene. Since Timon is ready to bear him, the jeweler and the painter also stand him. Timon invites him to eat to which Apemantus refuses.

Towards the end there is an argument between the poet and Apemantus in which Apemantus calls the poet a liar. There is a sound of trumpets, which announces the arrival of Alcibiades with twenty companions. Timon goes to meet Alcibiades leaving Apemantus with the two lords. The two lords talk for some time and then they too leave for the feast.

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