Reference > William Shakespeare > The Oxford Shakespeare > Timon of Athens
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William Shakespeare (1564–1616).  The Oxford Shakespeare.  1914.
 
Timon of Athens
 
Act III. Scene V.
 
The Same.  The Senate House.
 
The Senate sitting.
  First Sen.  My lord, you have my voice to it; the fault’s
Bloody; ’tis necessary he should die;
Nothing emboldens sin so much as mercy.        5
  Sec. Sen.  Most true; the law shall bruise him.
 
Enter ALCIBIADES, attended.
  Alcib.  Honour, health, and compassion to the senate!
  First Sen.  Now, captain.
  Alcib.  I am a humble suitor to your virtues;        10
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        15
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,—        20
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,        25
As if he had but prov’d an argument.
  First Sen.  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        30
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        35
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!        40
  Alcib.  My lord,—
  First Sen.  You cannot make gross sins look clear;
To revenge is no valour, but to bear.
  Alcib.  My lords, then, under favour, pardon me,
If I speak like a captain.        45
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        50
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!        55
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;        60
But who is man that is not angry?
Weigh but the crime with this.
  Sec. Sen.  You breathe in vain.
  Alcib.        In vain! his service done
At Lacedæmon and Byzantium        65
Were a sufficient briber for his life.
  First Sen.  What’s that?
  Alcib.  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        70
In the last conflict, and made plenteous wounds!
  Sec. Sen.  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        75
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.
  First Sen.  He dies.        80
  Alcib.  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;        85
And, for I know your reverend ages love
Security, I’ll pawn my victories, all
My honour 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;        90
For law is strict, and war is nothing more.
  First Sen.  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.
  Alcib.  Must it be so? it must not be. My lords,        95
I do beseech you, know me.
  Sec. Sen.  How!
  Alcib.  Call me to your remembrances.
  Third Sen.        What!
  Alcib.  I cannot think but your age has forgot me;        100
It could not else be I should prove so base,
To sue, and be denied such common grace.
My wounds ache at you.
  First Sen.        Do you dare our anger?
’Tis in few words, but spacious in effect;        105
We banish thee for ever.
  Alcib.        Banish me!
Banish your dotage; banish usury,
That makes the senate ugly.
  First Sen.  If, after two days’ shine, Athens contain thee,        110
Attend our weightier judgment. And, not to swell our spirit,
He shall be executed presently.  [Exeunt Senators.
  Alcib.  Now the gods keep you old enough; that you may live
Only in bone, that none may look on you!
I am worse than mad: I have kept back their foes,        115
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!        120
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;        125
Soldiers should brook as little wrongs as gods.  [Exit.
 
 
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