When Shakespeare's Timon of Athens was first performed and the sources he used.

1623 Folio page from Timon of Athens
© RSC – Image Licensing

Date

Timon of Athens is one of Shakespeare's most difficult plays to date. There is no record of a performance in Shakespeare's lifetime, nor any contemporary mention of the play. It has been variously regarded as unfinished, a collaboration (likely with Thomas Middleton) or revised by an author other than Shakespeare.

Stylistic evidence suggests that it belongs alongside King Lear, Antony and Cleopatra and Middleton's A Trick to Catch the Old One, which dates it from around 1604-06.

Sources

Shakespeare's main source for Timon of Athens was Sir Thomas North's translation of Plutarch's Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans from 1579, from which he also gained material for his plays Julius CaesarCoriolanus and Antony and Cleopatra.

For some elements of the play not found in Plutarch, Shakespeare may have referred to the Greek satirist Lucian of Samosata's dialogue Timon the Misanthrope, which Shakespeare may have known in its translations.

You might also like