Timon of Athens

by: William Shakespeare

Act III, Scene vii

Summary Act III, Scene vii


Many of Timon's friends come to his house, including Lucullus, Lucius, Sempronius and others. The lords discuss Timon's alleged fate, agreeing that he must have been merely testing him when he asked for a loan in days previous. They comment on all having been unable to give Timon a loan when he asked, and say they are all sad that they couldn't help him.

Timon enters, and several lords apologize for not having been able to give him a loan when he asked. He brushes off their apologies, and urges them all to be seated while the feast is served. Meanwhile the lords chatter about the banishment of Alcibiades.

Timon urges the lords to prepare for the feast, and speaks some words over the covered dishes. Thanking the gods, he says the gods should give of themselves only enough to be praised but always hold something back. He urges the gods to give to men only so much so they need not borrow from one another, for if later the gods needed to borrow from men, then men would forsake them. Timon asks that the meat that is served be more beloved than the man who serves it, that any gathering have its fair share of villains, and that the people of Athens be ready for destruction. And as for his present friends, he does not bless them, as they are nothing to him, and he welcomes them to nothing.

Then the dishes are uncovered and revealed to be full of steaming water and stones. Timon shouts at the surprised lords that this is his last feast, and he will wash off their flattery and villainy with the feast's water. He curses all the lords, and when one lord tries to leave, he beats them all. Timon declares that he henceforth hates all men and all humanity, and leaves.

The lords are astonished, and convinced that Timon has gone mad. One day he gives them jewels, says one lord, and the next day stones.


Timon finally confronts his friends at his feast, and tells him what he really thinks of them. His words over the feast, allegedly spoken in thanks to the gods, clarify his case and demonstrate his understanding of how much the lords have taken advantage of his generosity. Timon criticizes his guests for having praised him only for giving gifts, not for his friendship. He accuses them of abandoning their fond attitude toward him only when he needs them to pay back some small portion of his favors. He tells them that they have loved the things he provided them more than they loved him. And he curses them all.