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The poet and the painter come into the woods. They are looking for Timon. They discuss the rumors that Timon now possesses a lot of gold. The painter informs the poet how Timon has enriched the prostitutes Phrynia and Timandra, the steward Flavius and also Alcibiades. Then they both discuss what present they should give Timon. The painter says that, it is better to promise something instead of actually giving something and that this pleases the person more than dull work. Timon overhears them. When they see Timon, they greet him and express their sympathy. Timon questions them if they were aware of his newly found gold. They admit it. Timon advises them to get rid of the evil villain within them. He then gives them some gold, gives them a good thrashing, calls them Ďrascal dogs,í and drives them away.
The next visitors are two Senators from Athens. They are accompanied by Flavius. The steward tells the Senators that he is sure that Timon will not help them. Flavius now calls Timon from his cave. The Senators greet Timon and, as expected, he speaks to them very roughly. The Senators express their regret at what they have done. They request Timon to come back to Athens to fight against Alcibiades, who is causing trouble and threatening to destroy the city. They want him to accept the command of the army so that together they can drive away Alcibiades. Timon refuses to accompany them as he does not care for Athens any more and therefore the misery of the Athenians does not concern him anymore. Timon tells them not to come back to him again. The Senators realize that Timon is not going to help them and therefore decide to go back to Athens soon so that they can think of some means to save the city.
The fifth act is a reversal of the third Act. The fact that Timon is rich again reaches Athens. Those who had abandon him during his trouble now flock back in the hope of gaining something. The poet and the painter are the first ones to come to the woods to meet Timon. Their artificiality can be seen in their conversation with Timon. The painter has nothing to give Timon and decides to promise him an excellent piece of work. The poet also decides to promise him something based on his tragic life. They donít want to take a chance of losing a huge wealth.
When Timon overhears this he agrees to what Apemantus had been repeatedly trying to convey (Act 1). The betrayal has affected Timon so deeply that he says to himself that he is ready to give gold to spread their evil thought to others. They express their outward sympathy, which obviously does not spring from their heart. Timon calls the painter an alchemist because he blends color. Timon then tells him to transform stones into gold.
Flavius brings two Senators to meet Timon. The steward informs the Senators that it is fruitless to approach Timon because he knows his master well. The Senators apologize to Timon for all the wrongs that they have done to him. They request Timon to come back to the city because they are scared of Alcibiades, as he has threatened to destroy the city. The first Senator tempts Timon with good name, wealth and power. The Senators want Timonís help in driving Alcibiades out. Hence, the readers can see here that, the Senators have not come here because they sympathize with Timon but because he is the only person, who can save them from Alcibiadesí fury.
However, experience has made Timon a wise man. At first, it seems that he will help them but to the surprise of the Senators, he says that he does not value the lives of the Athenians. He leaves them under the protection of God, as the thieves are under the mercy of the person responsible for executing him. He treats them in the same way that they have treated him.
Here, one notices a similarity between Timonís curse and that of Alcibiades, when the Senators refused to listen to his request. They both wish the Senators a long life full of similarity in Timonís curse with those of Alcibiades in Act three scene five in which he wishes them long life of suffering.
From Timonís last speech in this scene, it seems as though Timon is awaiting his death. He however is all prepared for it. He has seen both the good and the bad part of life. He no longer seems to be interested in it.