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Timon of Athens

Timon of Athens Translation Act 3, Scene 5

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FIRST SENATOR

My lord, you have my voice to it; the fault'sBloody; 'tis necessary he should die:Nothing emboldens sin so much as mercy.

FIRST SENATOR

You have my vote! He should die for this heinous act, because mercy would only lead to more behavior like it. 

SECOND SENATOR

Most true; the law shall bruise him.

SECOND SENATOR

I agree. He must face the rule of law.

Enter ALCIBIADES, with Attendants

ALCIBIADES

Honour, health, and compassion to the senate!

ALCIBIADES

Long live the senate!

FIRST SENATOR

Now, captain?

FIRST SENATOR

What, captain?

ALCIBIADES

I am an humble suitor to your virtues; For pity is the virtue of the law, And none but tyrants use it cruelly. It pleases time and fortune to lie heavy Upon a friend of mine, who, in hot blood, Hath stepp'd into the law, which is past depth To those that, without heed, do plunge into 't. He is a man, setting his fate aside, Of comely virtues: Nor did he soil the fact with cowardice— An honour in him which buys out his fault— But with a noble fury and fair spirit, Seeing his reputation touch'd to death, He did oppose his foe: And with such sober and unnoted passion He did behave his anger, ere 'twas spent, As if he had but proved an argument.

ALCIBIADES

I stand before you virtuous men to ask a favor. The law is a merciful thing, which only a tyrant could use for cruel purposes. Time and hard luck have worked against a friend of mine who recently broke the law in a fit of rage, a state which unfortunately the law does not consider when men break it. My friend, this action aside, is a good man, who in the moment actually acted without cowardice—something which ought to be held against his crime—by bravely identifying and responding to one who had ruined his reputation. He opposed this enemy with a clearheaded and calculating passion, expressing his anger with a certain coldness, almost as if he were proving a point.

FIRST SENATOR

You undergo too strict a paradox, Striving to make an ugly deed look fair: Your words have took such pains as if they labour'd To bring manslaughter into form and set quarrelling Upon the head of valour; which indeed Is valour misbegot and came into the world When sects and factions were newly born: He's truly valiant that can wisely suffer The worst that man can breathe, and make his wrongs His outsides, to wear them like his raiment, carelessly, And ne'er prefer his injuries to his heart, To bring it into danger. If wrongs be evils and enforce us kill, What folly 'tis to hazard life for ill!

FIRST SENATOR

Your argument is contradictory, a forced attempt to make gross actions seem justifiable. Your rhetoric reaches almost to the point of labor as it tries to turn murder into a mere formality and feuding into an act of valor. Feuds actually prove to be valor in its most degenerate form, as they come from the formation of rivalries. A man is truly valiant only when he can endure the worst insults men can speak, and even wear them like clothing without a care in the world. True valor never takes injury to heart, or retaliates in violence. If acts of injustice are in fact evil and force us to kill others, how dumb it would be then to risk your life for such a cause!

ALCIBIADES

My lord,—

ALCIBIADES

But—

FIRST SENATOR

You cannot make gross sins look clear:To revenge is no valour, but to bear.

FIRST SENATOR

You cannot make terrible sins look innocent. Valor is patience, not revenge.

ALCIBIADES

My lords, then, under favour, pardon me, If I speak like a captain. Why do fond men expose themselves to battle, And not endure all threats? sleep upon't, And let the foes quietly cut their throats, Without repugnancy? If there be Such valour in the bearing, what make we Abroad? why then, women are more valiant That stay at home, if bearing carry it, And the ass more captain than the lion, the felon Loaden with irons wiser than the judge, If wisdom be in suffering. O my lords, As you are great, be pitifully good: Who cannot condemn rashness in cold blood? To kill, I grant, is sin's extremest gust; But, in defence, by mercy, 'tis most just. To be in anger is impiety; But who is man that is not angry? Weigh but the crime with this.

ALCIBIADES

Then forgive me for speaking like a military man, my lords. Why do good people fight and not patiently bear the insults of their enemies? Why do they not patiently let those same enemies murder them in their sleep? If there is such honor in patience, what do we make of our wars abroad, and why are women not considered more valiant for staying at home? Why do we not deem the donkey superior to the lion, or the prisoner to the judge, if there is such wisdom in suffering? You are great men, be compassionate. Who would not sentence a man for violent aggression? You are right, murder is the greatest sin, but when it is done for self-defense it is fair. Anger is wicked, but who has not been angry before? Think about this as you judge the crime before you.

SECOND SENATOR

You breathe in vain.

SECOND SENATOR

Your speech is useless.

ALCIBIADES

In vain! his service doneAt Lacedaemon and ByzantiumWere a sufficient briber for his life.

ALCIBIADES

Useless! The man's heroism at the battles of Lacedaemon and Byzantium should be enough to win him his life. 

FIRST SENATOR

What's that?

FIRST SENATOR

What?

ALCIBIADES

I say, my lords, he has done fair service, And slain in fight many of your enemies: How full of valour did he bear himself In the last conflict, and made plenteous wounds!

ALCIBIADES

The man is a hero and has killed many of our enemies. How bravely did he fight and wound many men in the last battle?

SECOND SENATOR

He has made too much plenty with 'em; He's a sworn rioter: he has a sin that often Drowns him, and takes his valour prisoner: If there were no foes, that were enough To overcome him: in that beastly fury He has been known to commit outrages, And cherish factions: 'tis inferr'd to us, His days are foul and his drink dangerous.

SECOND SENATor

He wounded too many men. He's a crazy drunk, and that vice ruins his honor. He would fight even if he had no enemies, and in his temper he has committed many crimes and encourages rebellion. We have been told that he is a dangerous and wicked man.

FIRST SENATOR

He dies.

FIRST SENATOR

He will die.

ALCIBIADES

Hard fate! he might have died in war. My lords, if not for any parts in him— Though his right arm might purchase his own time And be in debt to none —yet, more to move you, Take my deserts to his, and join 'em both: And, for I know your reverend ages love Security, I'll pawn my victories, all My honours to you, upon his good returns. If by this crime he owes the law his life, Why, let the war receive 't in valiant gore For law is strict, and war is nothing more.

ALCIBIADES

How cruel! He would have died in battle if he did not have certain good qualities. And even though his sword-arm has bought him a longer life, in which he owes nothing to anyone, take this as encouragement to change your ruling. Think of what's mine as his, and because I know you all love money, I'll give to you all that I have won at war in return for his safety. If he owes his life for this crime, let it at least be had at war with the army. War can punish the way the law does.

FIRST SENATOR

We are for law: he dies; urge it no more,On height of our displeasure: friend or brother,He forfeits his own blood that spills another.

FIRST SENATOR

We represent the law. He will die, and stop pushing the point. Though it does not please us, he will die for murder, even if he is your friend or family. 

ALCIBIADES

Must it be so? it must not be. My lords,I do beseech you, know me.

ALCIBIADES

Why does it have to be this way? It cannot be. Please, my lords, I beg you to trust me.

SECOND SENATOR

How!

SECOND SENATOR

How!

ALCIBIADES

Call me to your remembrances.

ALCIBIADES

Remember what I have done.

THIRD SENATOR

What!

THIRD SENATOR

What?

ALCIBIADES

I cannot think but your age has forgot me; It could not else be, I should prove so base, To sue, and be denied such common grace: My wounds ache at you.

ALCIBIADES

You cannot possibly have forgotten me, but there is no other reason you would deny me after I have lowered myself to beg for something you would grant any other man. It hurts me to the very core.

FIRST SENATOR

Do you dare our anger?'Tis in few words, but spacious in effect;We banish thee for ever.

FIRST SENATOR

Are you seriously provoking us? In just a few words we can have an enormous impact. We banish you forever.

ALCIBIADES

Banish me!Banish your dotage; banish usury,That makes the senate ugly.

ALCIBIADES

Banish me! Banish your old ways! Banish your money-lending! Banish everything that has ruined the senate!

FIRST SENATOR

If, after two days' shine, Athens contain thee, Attend our weightier judgment. And, not to swell our spirit, He shall be executed presently.

FIRST SENATOR

If we find you in Athens two days from now, you will face the most severe punishment. And even though it displeases us, your friend will be executed now.

Exeunt Senators

ALCIBIADES

Now the gods keep you old enough; that you may live Only in bone, that none may look on you! I'm worse than mad: I have kept back their foes, While they have told their money and let out Their coin upon large interest, I myself Rich only in large hurts. All those for this? Is this the balsam that the usuring senate Pours into captains' wounds? Banishment! It comes not ill; I hate not to be banish'd; It is a cause worthy my spleen and fury, That I may strike at Athens. I'll cheer up My discontented troops, and lay for hearts. 'Tis honour with most lands to be at odds; Soldiers should brook as little wrongs as gods.

ALCIBIADES

The gods have let you live so long that you are only skin and bones, and so ugly that no one will even look at you! I'm crazy with anger. I have defended them from their enemies. They have lent their money to everyone and pocketed the earnings, while all I have are wounds from battle. All that fighting for this? Is this what the senate gives its captains for sacrificing themselves to battle? Banishment! Good! I would hate not to be banished. It makes me angry enough to attack Athens. I'll gather the troops and garner their support. Countries are always at war, and soldiers should not have to face any more trials than the gods.

Exit

Timon of athens
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