Timon of Athens

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Old Athenian

The Old Athenian is a minor character in William Shakespeare's play Timon of Athens. Although his role may be small, he serves as a significant representative of the people of Athens and their relationship with the main character, Timon.

As his name suggests, the Old Athenian is an elderly citizen of Athens who is known for his wisdom and experience. He appears in the play as a messenger from Alcibiades, a military commander and friend of Timon. The Old Athenian brings news of Alcibiades' army advancing towards Athens, seeking revenge for the unjust treatment he received from the city's leaders.

Despite his age, the Old Athenian remains loyal to his city and its people. He expresses his concerns about the impending war and the potential destruction it could bring upon Athens. In a pivotal scene, he delivers a speech addressing the citizens and urging them to reflect on their actions and the consequences they may face.

The Old Athenian's Speech

In this memorable speech, the Old Athenian emphasizes the importance of humility, justice, and the dangers of excessive wealth. He criticizes the citizens for their greed and negligence towards the well-being of others. He warns them that their actions have consequences, and that their current state of prosperity may be short-lived if they continue down the path of corruption.

The Old Athenian's speech serves as a powerful reminder of the themes present throughout the play. It highlights the downfall of Timon, who was once a generous and beloved member of society but was ultimately betrayed by those he considered friends. The Old Athenian's words also foreshadow the impending conflict that will soon engulf Athens.

Although the Old Athenian's role is brief, his character embodies the values and concerns of the citizens of Athens. He represents the voice of reason and serves as a moral compass in the midst of the chaos and corruption that surrounds Timon's downfall. His presence reminds us of the importance of remaining virtuous and just, even in the face of adversity.