Timon of Athens Translation Act 4, Scene 1
Let me look back upon thee. O thou wall, That girdlest in those wolves, dive in the earth, And fence not Athens! Matrons, turn incontinent! Obedience fail in children! slaves and fools, Pluck the grave wrinkled senate from the bench, And minister in their steads! to general filths Convert o' the instant, green virginity, Do 't in your parents' eyes! bankrupts, hold fast; Rather than render back, out with your knives, And cut your trusters' throats! bound servants, steal! Large-handed robbers your grave masters are, And pill by law. Maid, to thy master's bed; Thy mistress is o' the brothel! Son of sixteen, pluck the lined crutch from thy old limping sire, With it beat out his brains! Piety, and fear, Religion to the gods, peace, justice, truth, Domestic awe, night-rest, and neighbourhood, Instruction, manners, mysteries, and trades, Degrees, observances, customs, and laws, Decline to your confounding contraries, And let confusion live! Plagues, incident to men, Your potent and infectious fevers heap On Athens, ripe for stroke! Thou cold sciatica, Cripple our senators, that their limbs may halt As lamely as their manners. Lust and liberty Creep in the minds and marrows of our youth, That 'gainst the stream of virtue they may strive, And drown themselves in riot! Itches, blains, Sow all the Athenian bosoms; and their crop Be general leprosy! Breath infect breath, at their society, as their friendship, may merely poison! Nothing I'll bear from thee, But nakedness, thou detestable town! Take thou that too, with multiplying bans! Timon will to the woods; where he shall find The unkindest beast more kinder than mankind. The gods confound—hear me, you good gods all— The Athenians both within and out that wall! And grant, as Timon grows, his hate may grow To the whole race of mankind, high and low! Amen.
Let me back on the city. Your walls that contain those ravenous wolves should sink into the earth instead of protecting you, Athens. I hope your mothers become drunks and that your children grow bad-tempered! I hope that slaves and idiots replace the cranky old senators and rule from their seats, that little girls turn instantly into low whores and lose their virginities right in front of their parents' eyes, that bankrupt debtors pay back their debts by slitting their creditors' throats, and that servants bound to loyalty steal from their masters! The great men of Athens are all greedy robbers and use the law to plunder for their own means. You, maid, go to your masters' bed, because your mistress is a whore! You, sixteen-year-old son, steal the cane out of the hands of your old crippled father and use it to beat out his brains! All civic virtues—piety, fear, devotion, peace, justice, truth, respect, tranquility, neighborly love, education, manners, professions, ranks, observance, custom, law—let all your chaotic opposites reign in destruction! You, plague, attack Athens with your powerful and infectious fevers! You, sciata, cripple all the senators and make their limbs as useless as their manners! You, free lust, crawl into the minds and bodies of teenagers so that they betray virtue and drown themselves in debauchery! I hope every Athenian is infected with horrible itches and boils, and be struck with leprosy. May each breath spread infection and make society poisonous! Evil city, I will spare you no evil but the sight of my naked body—but no, take that too!
[Ripping off his clothes and flashing the city walls] I, Timon, will go to the woods and find the most savage beast a better friend to mankind. May the gods drive all Athenians within and outside the city walls crazy! And may I grow to hate more and more the whole race of mankind, top to bottom! Amen.
LitCharts A+ members also get exclusive access to:
- Downloadable translations of every Shakespeare play and sonnet
- Downloads of 525 LitCharts Lit Guides
- Explanations and citation info for 13,842 quotes covering 525 books
- Teacher Editions for every Lit Guide
- PDFs defining 136 key Lit Terms