The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.1011 Saturday, 18 November 2006
Date: Thursday, 16 Nov 2006 14:57:55 -0500
Subject: Timon of Athens Crux
At the beginning of the long scene before Timon's cave (IV.iii), Timon
has a soliloquy which begins:
O blessed breeding Sunday, draw from the earth
Rotten humidity: Below thy Sisters Orbe
Infect the ayre. Twinn'd Brothers of one wombe.
Whose procreation, residence, and birth,
Scarce is dividant; touch them with severall fortunes,
The greater scornes the lesser. Not Nature
(To whom all sores lay siege) can bear great Fortune
But by contempt of Nature.
Raise me this Begger, and deny't that Lord,
The Senators shall beare contempt hereditary,
The Begger Native Honor.
It is the Pastour, lards the Brothers sides,
The want that makes him leave: ....
Most editors emend "Brothers" to "rother's" or "wether's" and "leave" to
"lean"; so that the last two lines mean simply that a beast is fattened
by forage and starves when there is none, hardly a striking revelation
or one that contributes to the point Timon is making. It occurs to me
that the correct reading is precisely as set out in F1 (revising only
spelling and pointing). The sense would be that one brother will depart
from another when the other ceases to offer wealth. This fits the theme
of the play and the notions that Timon is expressing. Any thoughts?
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