In Timon of Athens, Lord Timon discovers the limits of wealth and friendship. He spends freely on others and hosts banquets for many guests. Despite his servants’ warnings, he spends so excessively that his money runs out—and the philosopher Apemantus condemns his flatterers as insincere.
Soon Timon’s creditors begin to call in their loans. Timon expects help from his friends, but they all refuse him money. Furious, he invites them again to a banquet, but serves only water and stones before he dismisses them, cursing Athens. He exiles himself to a wilderness.
There the embittered Timon finds gold. He gives some to enemies of Athens and to prostitutes and bandits. When senators beg him to return to Athens as a military leader to save the city from his banished friend Alcibiades, he refuses and retreats to a cave to die. Alcibiades defeats Athens but promises to protect the city and its citizens. Learning of the despairing inscription on Timon’s tombstone, he repeats his offer of bringing peace to the city.