Timon of Athens | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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Course Hero. "Timon of Athens Study Guide." Course Hero. 13 Apr. 2018. Web. 19 Sep. 2018. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Timon-of-Athens/>.

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Course Hero. (2018, April 13). Timon of Athens Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved September 19, 2018, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Timon-of-Athens/

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Course Hero. "Timon of Athens Study Guide." April 13, 2018. Accessed September 19, 2018. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Timon-of-Athens/.

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Course Hero, "Timon of Athens Study Guide," April 13, 2018, accessed September 19, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Timon-of-Athens/.

Timon of Athens | Act 5, Scene 2 | Summary

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Summary

Before the walls of Athens two other senators (not those from the preceding scene) are speaking with a messenger. They listen with horror to his report of a large army, under Alcibiades's command, swiftly approaching the city. One of the senators from the previous scene arrives and warns them to expect "nothing"—no help—from Timon. Rather, he says, the city must brace itself for a likely defeat at the hands of Alcibiades.

Analysis

This scene serves mainly to keep things moving along back in Athens and, equally important, to allow for Timon's offstage death. The "news" reported in the scene is a recapitulation of earlier action. The senators may be startled to learn Alcibiades is near, but the audience saw him outside the city in Act 4, Scene 3. Likewise Timon's refusal to help the Athenians is dramatized in Act 5, Scene 1, so although it may be news to the panicked senators it is not to the audience.

Nonetheless the scene makes sense perhaps as a way of letting Timon simply fade away like an angry ghost. To see the potential awkwardness of actually showing an onstage death in simple terms, one must consider these questions: How does Timon wind up in the grave he dug for himself? Do the repentant banditti return and give him a proper burial, or does the tide do the job? By "cutting away" to Athens for 15 lines, the playwrights carefully step around a scene that could be impossibly clumsy to stage.

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