From the Life of Antony. Antony, at the end of his life, his hopes shattered, said that he just wanted to end his days living the life of Timon of Athens. Plutarch thus digresses:
This Timon was a citizen of Athens, and lived much about the Peloponnesian War, as may be seen by the comedies of Aristophanes and Plato, in which he is ridiculed as a hater and enemy of mankind. He avoided and repelled the approaches of every one, but embraced with kisses and the greatest show of affection Alcibiades, then in his hot youth. And when Apemantus was astonished and demanded the reason, he replied that he knew this young man would one day do infinite mischief to the Athenians. He never admitted any one into his company, except at times this Apemantus, who was of the same sort of temper, and was an imitator of his way of life. At the celebration of the festival of flagons, these two kept the feast together, and Apemantus, saying to him, “What a pleasant party, Timon!” “It would be,” he answered, “if you weren’t here.” One day he got up in a full assembly on the speaker’s place, and when there was a dead silence and great wonder at so unusual a sight, he said, “Ye men of Athens, I have a little plot of ground, and in it grows a fig-tree, on which many citizens have been pleased to hang themselves; and now, having resolved to build in that place, I wish to announce it publicly, that any of you who may be desirous may go and hang yourselves before I cut it down.” He died and was buried at Halae, near the sea, where it so happened that, after his burial, a land-slip took place on the point of the shore, and the sea, flowing in, surrounded his tomb, and made it inaccessible to the foot of man. It bore this inscription:
Here am I laid, my life of misery done.
Ask not my name, I curse you every one.
And this epitaph was made by himself while yet alive; that which is more generally known is by Callimachus:
Timon, the misanthrope, am I below.
Go, and revile me, traveller, only go.
Thus much of Timon, of whom much more might be said.
But unfortunately, Plutarch tells us no more about this man – who, I must confess, does make for compelling reading, despite the unusualness of a life remembered to posterity for its misanthropy. I believe Shakespeare used the above passage to write a play, which I have not read and have not even heard anything about – which is, in general, a terrible sign, when a universally esteemed writer has a work no one ever mentions. I believe Lucian wrote about Timon as well, though I have yet to read what he has to say.