John Henry Wright.

Masterpieces of Greek literature; Homer: Tyrtaeus: Archilochus: Callistratus: Alcaeus: Sappho: Anacreon: Pindar: Aeschylus: Sophocles: Euripides Aristophanes: Herodotus: Thucydides: Xenophon: Plato: Theocritus: Lucian, with biographical sketches and notes; online

. (page 29 of 29)
Online LibraryJohn Henry WrightMasterpieces of Greek literature; Homer: Tyrtaeus: Archilochus: Callistratus: Alcaeus: Sappho: Anacreon: Pindar: Aeschylus: Sophocles: Euripides Aristophanes: Herodotus: Thucydides: Xenophon: Plato: Theocritus: Lucian, with biographical sketches and notes; → online text (page 29 of 29)
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dent of Girard College.


Scene I. — A desert place. Timon digs up the treasure. The
false friends of former days — Gnathonides, Philiades, Demeas,
Thrasycles, Blepsias, Laches, and Gniphon, and a crowd of
others — hear of his good fortune and hasten to greet him.

'Timon (alone). Come now, O mattock, take
courage for the nonce, I pray you, and don't tire of
calling Thesaurus forth from the depths into the light.
(The strokes of Ms mattock suddenly revealing the
treasure.) O Zeus, god of marvels, and ye beloved
priests of Cybele, and Hermes, bestower of treasure
trove — whence comes so much gold ? Can it be
tbat it 's a dream ? At any rate, I 'm afraid I shall

^ Timon the Misanthrope appears first in Aristophanes. He is best
known to the modern world through Shakespeare's Timon of Athens.


awake and find only coals. Yet truly it is gold coin,
reddish, heavy, and in appearance perfectly exquisite.

gold, the fairest blessing by mortal men possessed!

Thou strik'st the eye both night and day, just like a flaming fire.

Come, dearest and most lovely being I Now, indeed,

1 can believe that even Zeus once upon a time turned
into gold. For what maiden would not welcome with
open arms so fair a lover, though he dropped down
through the roof?^ O Midas and Croesus, and ye
votive offerings in Delphi,^ how utterly insignificant,
after all, were ye in comparison with Timon and
Timon's wealth, to whom, in fact, not even the king
of the Persians is equal! O mattock and dearest
leathern frock, it will be a graceful thing to dedicate
you to Pan here. As for myself I '11 purchase at
once all the land on the border and build a little
tower over my treasure, big enough for me to live in
by myself ; and I think when I die, I '11 have the
same as my tomb also. Be this irrevocably decreed
and ordained by law for the rest of my life — no in-
tercourse or acquaintance with anybody, and contempt
for all. Be friend, guest, companion, or Mercy's altar
an utter absurdity ; and to pity one in tears, or help
one in need, shall be held a transgression of law and a
breach of manners. My mode of life shall be solitary,
just like that of wolves, and Timon my only friend.
Let all others be regarded as enemies and plotters. It
shall be defilement even to hold intercourse with any
of them ; and if I merely catch sight of a man, it
shall be a day of ill omen. In a word, let men be to
me just the same as statues of marble or of bronze.
I shall receive no messenger from them and make no

1 Cf . the story of Danae. See the extract from Simonides, p. 70.

2 I. e. at the Pythian oracle.


treaty. Let the wilderness be my boundary, so far
as they are concerned. The terms, fellow - tribes-
men, fellow - clansmen, fellow - citizens, and the very
name fatherland shall be frigid, useless appellations,
and objects of rivalry among men of no understand-
ing. Timon shall have the exclusive enjoyment of
his wealth and look down upon all ; he shall fare
sumptuously apart by himself, free from flattery and
wearisome compliments, and sacrifice to the gods and
feast with nobody but himself as neighbor and boon
companion, a great way off from everybody else. Be
it decreed once for all that he alone bid himself fare-
well, and when he must needs die, place a garland
upon his brow. " The Misanthrope " shall be my
most agreeable name ; and peevishness, roughness of
manner, and awkwardness, anger and dislike of men,
shall be tokens of my character. If I should see a
man burning up and imploring me to put the fire out,
be it decreed to quench it with pitch and oil. And if
a winter torrent should carry a man past me and he
should stretch out his arms and beg me to give him a
helping hand, be it ordained to push even such a one
away, and plunge him in head-foremost, that he may
not be able to pop up again. For thus they would
receive an impartial fate. Timon, son of Echecra-
tides, of the township of Collytus, proposed this law ;
the same Timon put the question to the assembly.
Amen ! Let this stand as our decree, and let us in
manly fashion abide by it. Albeit I should lay great
stress upon having the fact that I am again rolling in
wealth pretty well known to all men. For that would
answer as well as a hanging for them. — But what
does this mean ? Heavens ! what hurrying ! From
all quarters people are rushing hither in such haste as


to be covered with dust and gasping for breath. I
don't understand whence they got scent of the gold.
Shall I then mount this rocky hill and drive them off
by pelting them at a distance with these stones from
overhead, or shall I transgress my law to this extent
at least and consort with them for this once, in order
that they may be more annoyed at being treated with
contempt? This plan, I think, is even better than
the other. So then let me show a bold front and re-
ceive them on the spot. Come, let me see ! Who is
that foremost one among them? Gnathonides, the
parasite, who, on my asking him lately for a friendly
loan, handed me that halter, though he had often
made himself sick when dining at my house by swill-
ing down entire jars of wine. Well ! it was very
kind of him to be the first to arrive. For he shall
howl before the others.

Enter Gnathonides.

Gnathonides, Did n't I tell you the gods would n't
be neglectful of so excellent a man as Timon ? Good-
day, Timon ! What 's the good word with you, my
heau ideal of grace and charm, joUiest of boon com-
panions ?

Timon. Humph ! Good-day to you, too, Gna-
thonides, the most gluttonous of the whole brood of
vultures, and the biggest rogue among men !

Gnathonides. Really, you always did have a pen-
chant for cracking jokes. But where do you keep
wassail ? For I 've got here a brand-new lyric ode,
made up of dithyrambs, only just brought out.

Timon. Yes, and, besides, I '11 make you chant an
elegy right pathetically to the accompaniment of this
mattock here. ^Striking Gnathonides.)


Gnathonides. What means this, Timon ? How
dare you strike ? I protest. Heracles ! Oh ! Oh !
I cite you before the court of Areopagus for assault
and battery.

Timon. Well, if you linger here a moment longer,
I shall have to be indicted pretty soon for murder.
(^Still heating Mm.)

Gnathonides. Don't ! Don't ! But really, you 'd
effect a complete cure of the wound by scattering a
little of your gold upon it. For that 's a potent
remedy for staunching blood.

Timon. What I Are you still hanging around ?

Gnathonides. Well, I '11 go. But you shall re-
pent having become such a boor, from being the

kindly fellow you once were.

[Exit Gnathonides.

Timon (^seeing some one else approaching).
Who 's this man coming toward me — he with the
bald head ? It 's Philiades, of all flatterers the most
disgusting. He received from me a whole estate and
two talents as dowry for his daughter, as a leward for
his compliments, when he alone amid the general
silence indulged in fulsome praise of my singing, de-
claring with an oath that I was more musical than the
swans. But when he recently saw me ailing, and I
went up to him with the request for help, he laid all
the more blows upon me — the generous fellow !

Enter Philiades,

Philiades (seeing Gnathonides departing). Oh,
what impudence ! Do you now presume to be ac-
quainted with Timon? Is Gnathonides now his
friend and boon companion? So then the fellow has
got his deserts — such an ingrate is he. But we,


though old acquaintances of Timon's, companions of
his in youth and of the same township, are nevertheless
moderate in our demands, that we may not appear to
be rushing upon him full tilt. (^Addressing Timon.)
Good-day, my lord ! Take care and be on your guard
against these foul parasites, mere trencher friends,
who, for the rest, differ not at all from carrion-crow.
'T won't do to trust any of the men of the present
day any more. They are all base ingrates. / was en
route with a talent for you, that you might have it to
use for your pressing wants, and when almost here, I
heard that you had become immensely wealthy. I 've
come, accordingly, to give you this piece of advice.
And yet you are so wise that perhaps you don't need
any words from me, for you could recommend even to
Nestor what should be done.

Timon, Thank you, Philiades ! Only come for-
ward, and I '11 give you an affectionate greeting with
my mattock. (^Strikes him.)

Philiades, O sirs, I 've got my skull cracked by

this ingrate, all because I was for giving him some

good advice.

[Exit Philiades.

Timon, See, there 's the third one coming, the
orator, Demeas, with a decree in his right hand and
afQrming that he is a kinsman of mine. This man in
one day paid the city in full of all demands sixteen
talents out of my purse — for he had had judgment
given against him, and in default of payment, had been
bound with fetters, and I took pity on him and set
him free. But when recently it fell to his lot to ap-
portion the theoric fund to the tribe of Erechtheis,
and I went and asked him for my proper share, he
declared he did n't recognize me as a citizen.


Enter Demeas.

Demeas. Hail, Timon ! Thou very flower of race,
support of the Athenians ! bulwark of Greece ! In
sooth, the people in assembly and both councils have
been long awaiting your presence. But first hear the
decree which I have proposed in your behalf : —

'* Since Timon — the son of Echecratides, of the
township of Collytus — not only the heau ideal of a
man, but also wiser than anybody else in Greece, is
all the time doing continually what is best for the
city, and in one day has been victor at Olympia in
boxing, wrestling, and in racing both with a four-in-
hand of full-grown coursers and with a pair of fil-

Timon* Nay, but I 've never been at Olympia,
even as a looker-on,

Demeas. What 's the odds ? You will be by and
by, and it 's better that many such specifications be
added. (^Proceeding with the decree.') *' Moreover
also by proposing measures, by giving advice and
acting as general, he has rendered the city services of
no small moment. In return for all this, be it de-
creed by the Senate, the assembled Commons, and the
Supreme Court, voting by tribes, and by all the town-
ships individually and in concert, to set up a golden
statue of Timon alongside the Athene upon the
Acropolis, with a thunderbolt in his right hand and
seven lightning rays upon his head, and to crown him
with chaplets of gold, and that the chaplets be pro-
claimed by the herald to-day at the feast of Dionysus,
when the new tragedies are brought out — for in his
honor the Dionysia is to be celebrated to-day. De-
meas, the orator, being his next of kin and his pupil,
made the motion, for Timon is also a most excellent


orator and everything else he would like to be." So
here 's your decree ! I also wanted to introduce to
you my son, whom I have christened " Timon " after
your name.

Timon. How can that be ? Seeing you 've not
even got married — at least so far as I know.

Demeas. But I 'm going to take a wife next year
— God willing — and shall have offspring, and I '11 at
once name my prospective child " Timon," for it will
be a son.

Timon. Well ! I don't know as you will any
longer have a chance to get married — you fellow
there — after receiving a good sound castigation from
me. {Strikes.)

Demeas. Mercy on us ! What does this mean ?
Timon, are you aiming at absolute power and striking
freemen, when not even you yourself are a genuine
freeman ? But you shall speedily pay the proper
penalty for your other crimes, and in particular for
setting the Acropolis on fire.

Timon. But, you blackguard, the Acropolis has
not been set on fire. Plainly, then, you are accusing
me falsely.

Demeas. At least, you 've got rich by digging your
way into the treasury.

Timon. Neither has that been entered with the
spade. And so this charge also of yours is unlikely.

Demeas. It will be dug into hereafter. But
you 've already got everything there was in it.

Timon. There ! take another whack ! {Dealing
him a second blow.)

Demeas. Oh ! Oh ! My back ! {Putting his
hands behind him.)

Timon. Have done with your bawling, or I '11 let


you have a third. For I should become a perfect
laughing-stock, if unarmed I cut to pieces two bat-
talions of Lacedaemonians, but failed to crush one
beastly pygmy of a fellow. Why, all in vain would
have been my victories in the Olympic contests at
fisticuffs and wrestling. [Exit Demeas.

Menippus 1 AND Hermes. 2

Meni2)pus. Look here, Hermes, where are the hand-
some men and women ? Show me the lions — I 'm a
new-comer in these parts.^

Hermes. I've no time to spare, Menippus. How-
ever, just look over there to your right. There are
Hyacinthus, Narcissus, Nireus, and Achilles, and
Tyro, Helen, and Leda — in fine, all the old-time beau-

Menippus. I see nothing but bones and skulls, with
not a scrap of flesh upon them — the most of them
just alike.

Hermes. In sooth, they are what all the poets
admire — these bones, which you appear to think
slightly of.

Menippus. All the same, show me Helen, for I at
least should n't know her from the others.

Hermes. That skull there is Helen.

Menippus. Was it, then, for this that the thousand
ships were manned from all Greece, and Greeks and

1 A cynic philosopher, represented by Lucian as always jesting- at
serious things.

2 Hermes {Mercury) conducted the shades of the dead to the
lower world. See page 228.

^ I. e., the lower world.


barbarians fell in such numbers, and so many cities
were destroyed ?

Hermes. But, Menippus, you did n't see the woman
alive. Else you, too, would have declared it a blame-
less thing " to suffer ills so long a time for such a lady's
sake." ^ For, take the case of flowers that are with-
ered ; if one should look at them, now that they have
lost their color, to him no doubt they will seem un-
sightly. When, however, they are in blossom and
have their proper hue, they are in the highest degree

Menippus. Therefore, Hermes, I 'm amazed at this,
that the Greeks did n't perceive that they were strain-
ing every nerve over a thing so ephemeral and easily
fading away.

Hermes. Well, Menippus, I haven't any leisure
for arguing the matter with you. So select a spot
wherever you please, and lay yourself down and stay
there. For I must go at once and fetch the rest of
the dead.


"Peregrinus Proteus, who burned himself alive at the
Olympic games in A. d. 165, — Lucian himself being present,
— had been a Christian before he became a Cynic." This
selection contains §§ 11-13 of the letter of Lucian which
give an account of Peregrinus's death.

At this time also he ^ made himself proficient in the
marvellous wisdom of the Christians by keeping com-
pany, around about Palestine, with their priests and
scribes. Yes, and would you believe it ? — in a short
1 Homer's Iliad, III. 157. ^ Peregrinus.


time he made them out to be mere children in compar-
ison with himself, who united in his own person alone
the offices of prophet, master of ceremonies, head of
the synagogue, and everything. And of their books
he explained and interpreted some, and many he him-
self also wrote, and they came to look upon him as a
god, made him their law-giver, and chose him as their
patron. At all events, they still worship that extraor-
dinary man, who was crucified in Palestine for in-
troducing into the world this new religious sect.

Just about this time Peregrinus Proteus was seized
on this account and thrown into prison, which very
circumstance procured for him no small honor dur-
ing his subsequent career, and the reputation for won-
derful powers, and the popularity of which he was
passionately fond. However, now that he had been
put in bonds, the Christians, looking upon the thing
as a misfortune, left no stone unturned in their efforts
to secure his release. Then, when this proved to be
impracticable, they all the time zealously rendered
him ministries of every other sort. From earliest
dawn aged widows and orphan children were to be
seen waiting at the door of the prison ; and men of
rank among them even obtained the privilege of sleep-
ing with him within by bribing the prison guards.
Then they were wont to bring in all manner of viands
and read their sacred Scriptures, and our most excel-
lent Peregrinus — for that was still his name — was
dubbed by them a new Socrates.

Moreover, there came certain even from the cities
of Asia, sent by the Christians at the common charge,
to help the man, and advocate his cause, and com-
fort him. They exhibit extraordinary activity, when-
ever some such thing occurs affecting their common


interest. In short, tliey are lavish of everything.
And what is more, on the pretext of his impris-
onment, many contributions of money from them
came to Peregrinus at that time, and he made no lit-
tle income out of it. Why, these poor wretches have
persuaded themselves that they are going to be every
whit immortal and live forever ; wherefore they both
despise death and voluntarily devote themselves to it
— the most of them. Moreover, their first law-giver
persuaded them that they all are brethren one of an-
other, when once they come out and reject the gods
of the Greeks, and worship that crucified sophist, and
live according to his requirements. Therefore they
esteem all things alike as of small account, and regard
their property as common, having received such ideas
from others, without any adequate basis for their
faith. If, then, any cheat came among them and a
trickster able to manage things, in a very short time
he got ever so rich, laughing in his sleeve at these
unsophisticated folk.



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Online LibraryJohn Henry WrightMasterpieces of Greek literature; Homer: Tyrtaeus: Archilochus: Callistratus: Alcaeus: Sappho: Anacreon: Pindar: Aeschylus: Sophocles: Euripides Aristophanes: Herodotus: Thucydides: Xenophon: Plato: Theocritus: Lucian, with biographical sketches and notes; → online text (page 29 of 29)