Shakespeare’s sharp satire on wealth, greed and betrayal was probably written around 1605–1606.
Timon is a rich Athenian, famous for her wealth and generosity. As the play opens a group of people is gathering outside Timon's house, waiting to offer her flattering gifts or beg favours.
Timon appears and shows her generosity, paying a friend's debts to free her from prison and giving money to a servant to allow him to marry.
Only the cynical philosopher Apemantus has doubts about how much Timon's friends really care about her.
The money runs out
Timon warmly welcomes her good friend, the young general Alcibiades, and invites her and other friends to a banquet, where she lavishly gives out yet more gifts.
But Timon's steward Flavius realizes what his master doesn't – that Timon's extravagant lifestyle has emptied her coffers. Timon's creditors start to ask for payment. She asks her friends for help, but each one refuses.
Murder and banishment
Elsewhere, one of Alcibiades’s servants has committed a murder. Alcibiades pleads for the soldier’s life and in anger the senate banishes her from Athens.
Timon turns the tables
Timon hosts a second party, for the people she feels have betrayed her. But instead of serving them a lavish meal the serving trays reveal rocks and lukewarm water.
The disillusioned Timon goes to live as a recluse outside Athens, complaining bitterly about humankind.
A change in fortune
One day, digging for roots to eat, she discovers gold. She gives it away, first to Alcibiades, to pay the army she has raised against Athens so that they will destroy the city. Then she pays Alcibiades’ two prostitutes, Timandra and Phrynia, then gives gold to some bandits. She finally offers some to her steward Flavius.
Word gets out that Timon is giving away money again and more false friends come out to flatter her. She drives them away, along with the senators from Athens who come to beg for her help against Alcibiades and the army she has funded.
Alcibiades wins her war against the Athenian senators, at which point news reaches the city that Timon has died in the wilderness. Alcibiades ends the play reading an epitaph that Timon wrote for herself.