Timon of Athens | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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Course Hero. "Timon of Athens Study Guide." Course Hero. 13 Apr. 2018. Web. 17 Jan. 2019. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Timon-of-Athens/>.

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Course Hero. "Timon of Athens Study Guide." April 13, 2018. Accessed January 17, 2019. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Timon-of-Athens/.


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Timon of Athens | Act 3, Scene 3 | Summary



Timon's third (unnamed) servant visits the home of Sempronius, another supposed friend. Sempronius complains of being singled out by Timon "'bove all others," but the servant says Timon has already tried to borrow from Lucius, Lucullus, and Ventidius. Sempronius immediately changes tack diametrically and claims to be angry because Timon did not seek out his help sooner! If Timon had asked him first, he would gladly have given him money. Now, however, Sempronius's "honor" is too wounded for him to think of helping Timon. The servant sees through this clumsy ruse and fails to obtain the money. Nothing is left for Timon, he says, but to hide out in his own home, barring his door against his creditors.


Sempronius appears only in this scene and, like several of Timon's "friends," has a Roman rather than a Greek name and so would have sounded more familiar to Shakespeare's audience. Although there were many prominent Sempronii during the days of the Roman Republic, Shakespeare's character doesn't seem to be based on any specific historical figure. Instead, he is important mainly because he helps establish the pattern of ingratitude and disloyalty that Timon finds so troubling. By having four separate Athenians—Lucius, Lucullus, Ventidius, and now Sempronius—refuse to help, the authors create the sense Timon truly is alone in the world. This feeling of complete abandonment will become important in Acts 4 and 5 when Timon spends much of his time railing against the selfishness of humankind.

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