Timon, the role

Some characters seem to dominate plays. I’m thinking along the lines of the usual suspects: Richard III, Hamlet, Iago, Prospero. And after this month, I’ve got to add our titular Timon of Athens.

And the numbers back this up. According to the number-crunchers over at PlayShakespeare.com, in terms of total lines in their plays, the character Timon ranks 9th in the Canon (if you count Sir Thomas More in the play of the same name), with a line count of 769; that’s behind Richard III (1152); Hamlet (1099); Iago (881); Caius Martius (Coriolanus; 870); Sir Thomas More (851); Othello (848); Mark Antony (Antony and Cleopatra; 837); and King Henry V (807).

That’s pretty noteworthy.

Until you take into the account the length of the plays themselves. Both Richard III and Hamlet are really, really long; and Othello, Coriolanus, Henry V, and Antony and Cleopatra are all in the top ten in length. But not Timon of Athens. Nope, our play this month is the seventh SHORTEST play. So if you take into account the total number of lines in the play to come up with a percentage, then Timon is your second largest role, with 35% of the lines in the play spoken by Timon (only Sir Thomas More is more prevalent, with 39%).

Now THAT’s impressive.