Timon of Athens | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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Course Hero. "Timon of Athens Study Guide." Course Hero. 13 Apr. 2018. Web. 15 July 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 July 15, 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 July 15, 2018. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Timon-of-Athens/.

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Course Hero, "Timon of Athens Study Guide," April 13, 2018, accessed July 15, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Timon-of-Athens/.

Timon of Athens | Act 5, Scene 3 | Summary

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Summary

Back in Timon's woods, a soldier stumbles upon a roughly constructed gravesite. He reads part of the inscription: "Timon is dead, who hath out-stretched his span. / Some beast read this; there does not live a man." Unable to decipher the rest of the epitaph, he copies the message on a wax tablet to bring to his captain, who he hopes will be able to make sense of it.

Analysis

Even in death Timon remains "Misanthropos," the ultimate misanthrope who hates everybody. His inscription is sardonic and dry, but it also contains a parting jab at the Athenians. He invites "some beast" to read his tombstone because, in his experience, no true "man" is left in the world. The word man here means "human being": no living person, Timon is saying, possesses the humanizing traits of compassion and integrity. If anyone still did, Timon would not have been discarded by his "friends" as soon as his financial troubles were made known.

In relabeling humanity as "beast[s]," Timon echoes his discussion with Apemantus in Act 4, Scene 3. There he and the angry philosopher determined Athens was a "forest of beasts" in which everyone was either a cunning predator or elusive prey. By the time he died, Timon was blatantly and firmly convinced of this opinion.

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