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William Shakespeare (1564–1616). The Oxford Shakespeare. 1914.

Act V. Scene IV.

Timon of Athens

Before the Walls of Athens.

Trumpets sound.Enter ALCIBIADES with his Powers.

Alcib.Sound to this coward and lascivious town

Our terrible approach.[A parley sounded.

Enter Senators, on the Walls.

Till now you have gone on, and fill’d the time

With all licentious measure, making your wills

The scope of justice; till now myself and such

As slept within the shadow of your power

Have wander’d with our travers’d arms, and breath’d

Our sufferance vainly. Now the time is flush,

When crouching marrow, in the bearer strong,

Cries of itself, ‘No more:’ now breathless wrong

Shall sit and pant in your great chairs of ease,

And pursy insolence shall break his wind

With fear and horrid flight.

First Sen.Noble and young,

When thy first griefs were but a mere conceit,

Ere thou hadst power or we had cause of fear,

We sent to thee, to give thy rages balm,

To wipe out our ingratitude with loves

Above their quantity.

Sec. Sen.So did we woo

Transformed Timon to our city’s love

By humble message and by promis’d means:

We were not all unkind, nor all deserve

The common stroke of war.

First Sen.These walls of ours

Were not erected by their hands from whom

You have receiv’d your grief; nor are they such

That these great towers, trophies, and schools should fall

For private faults in them.

Sec. Sen.Nor are they living

Who were the motives that you first went out;

Shame that they wanted cunning in excess

Hath broke their hearts. March, noble lord,

Into our city with thy banners spread:

By decimation, and a tithed death,—

If thy revenges hunger for that food

Which nature loathes,—take thou the destin’d tenth,

And by the hazard of the spotted die

Let die the spotted.

First Sen.All have not offended;

For those that were, it is not square to take

On those that are, revenges: crimes, like lands,

Are not inherited. Then, dear countryman,

Bring in thy ranks, but leave without thy rage:

Spare thy Athenian cradle, and those kin

Which in the bluster of thy wrath must fall

With those that have offended: like a shepherd,

Approach the fold and cull th’ infected forth,

But kill not all together.

Sec. Sen.What thou wilt,

Thou rather shalt enforce it with thy smile

Than hew to ’t with thy sword.

First Sen.Set but thy foot

Against our rampir’d gates, and they shall ope,

So thou wilt send thy gentle heart before,

To say thou’lt enter friendly.

Sec. Sen.Throw thy glove,

Or any token of thine honour else,

That thou wilt use the wars as thy redress

And not as our confusion, all thy powers

Shall make their harbour in our town, till we

Have seal’d thy full desire.

Alcib.Then there’s my glove;

Descend, and open your uncharged ports:

Those enemies of Timon’s and mine own

Whom you yourselves shall set out for reproof,

Fall, and no more; and, to atone your fears

With my more noble meaning, not a man

Shall pass his quarter, or offend the stream

Of regular justice in your city’s bounds,

But shall be render’d to your public laws

At heaviest answer.

Both.’Tis most nobly spoken.

Alcib.Descend, and keep your words.[The Senators descend, and open the gates.

Enter a Soldier.

Sold.My noble general, Timon is dead;

Entomb’d upon the very hem o’ the sea:

And on his grave-stone this insculpture, which

With wax I brought away, whose soft impression

Interprets for my poor ignorance.

Alcib.Here lies a wretched corse, of wretched soul bereft:

Seek not my name: a plague consume you wicked caitiffs left!

Here lie I, Timon; who, alive, all living men did hate:

Pass by, and curse thy fill; but pass and stay not here thy gait.

These well express in thee thy latter spirits:

Though thou abhorr’dst in us our human griefs,

Scorn’dst our brain’s flow and those our droplets which

From niggard nature fall, yet rich conceit

Taught thee to make vast Neptune weep for aye

On thy low grave, on faults forgiven. Dead

Is noble Timon; of whose memory

Hereafter more. Bring me into your city,

And I will use the olive with my sword;

Make war breed peace; make peace stint war; make each

Prescribe to other as each other’s leech.

Let our drums strike.[Exeunt.