53) Timon’s Epitaph.
We saw earlier on page 69 cipher candidate number 33, involving an excerpt from The Life of Tymon of Athens in which a “Foole” had a description like that of Francis Bacon—a Spirit sometimes appearing like a Lord, a Lawyer, a Philosopher, and a Knight, with derived count of ‘67’, the simple code for “Francis’.
Well, on the last page of the play (p. 98 of the Tragedies) we have another cipher candidate. Here is what the 1623 Folio has on that page:
This Epitaph has been called ‘Absurd’ because it first says “Seek not my name” as if it’s hidden. And then it follows in the next line immediately beneath with “Heere lye I Timon”. Editors naturally consider it another mistake since the first two lines are a separate epitaph (for the same Timon) written by a separate author, than the next two lines. The Arden Shakespeare of the play leaves out the first two lines. They speculate that either Shakespeare or his supposed co-playwright Thomas Middleton, first included both epitaphs as alternatives that Plutarch had included in his work -- one of them by Timon himself and the other from the poet Callimachus. The speculation is that Shakespeare and/or Middleton hadn’t decided on which Epitaph would be the final version so they had both in the original manuscript. But then when it came time to publish the text they simply had forgotten to cross out one of the versions.
Well, here’s my speculation: Bacon, as Shakespeare, saw in the two versions an opportunity for another cleverly embedded cipher of his name. The first epitaph has the intriguing attention getter of “Seek not my name” and then came the absurd “Heere lye I Timon”. He spoke of the differences in those who just took in appearances as truth versus those that could see deeper into something’s hidden nature. The unsuspicious would, as the scholars have, quickly judge it to be a mistake as it appears to be and “pass and not stay” to look any deeper. This would be very much how mainstream scholars for ages took for truth that the earth was the center of the universe as it appeared to be. But a cipher sleuth pauses at the absurdity and sees the possibility for something not apparent. He then examines the most likely hiding place “Heere lye I Timon” and finds that the name Timon has a count of T=19, I=9, M=12, O=14,and N=13 for a total of 67, again the same as for ‘Francis’.
And that, again, better explains the apparent absurd mistake and answers what name was teasingly hidden.