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Pericles
Act 1, scene 2

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Entire Play

The nautical tale of a wandering prince, Pericles is narrated by John Gower, a poet from the English past. Gower explains that…

Act 1, 1 chorus

Gower sets the stage for Pericles’ entrance at Antioch by telling of the incest between Antiochus and his daughter, whom…

Act 1, scene 1

Pericles risks his life to win the hand of Antiochus’s daughter, but, in meeting the challenge, he learns of the…

Act 1, scene 2

Back in his kingdom of Tyre, Pericles, fearing the power of Antiochus, sets sail once again.

Act 1, scene 3

Thaliard arrives in Tyre to find Pericles gone.

Act 1, scene 4

In Tarsus, King Cleon, Queen Dionyza, and the citizens of the country, dying of hunger, are saved by Pericles and…

Act 2, 2 chorus

Gower tells of Pericles’ departure from Tarsus and of the storm that destroys his ships and men and tosses him…

Act 2, scene 1

Fishermen in Pentapolis provide the shipwrecked Pericles with clothing and then pull his armor from the sea. They agree to…

Act 2, scene 2

At the court, Pericles and other knights present their shields to Princess Thaisa, and Pericles wins the tournament.

Act 2, scene 3

Simonides and Thaisa separately express their admiration for “the stranger knight.”

Act 2, scene 4

In Tyre, Helicanus recounts the awful deaths of Antiochus and his daughter. He then agrees to accept the crown twelve…

Act 2, scene 5

King Simonides, learning that Thaisa loves Pericles, pretends to be angry, but then reveals his pleasure at their mutual love.

Act 3, 3 chorus

Gower picks up the story on the night after Pericles and Thaisa’s wedding and carries it forward through Thaisa’s becoming…

Act 3, scene 1

In the storm, Thaisa dies in giving birth and her body is cast into the sea. To save the baby,…

Act 3, scene 2

The body of Thaisa washes ashore in Ephesus, where she is revived by a physician named Lord Cerimon.

Act 3, scene 3

Pericles leaves the infant, Marina, in the care of Cleon and Dionyza and sails for Tyre.

Act 3, scene 4

In Ephesus, Thaisa decides to become a votaress at the temple of Diana.

Act 4, 4 chorus

Gower carries the story forward fourteen years, focusing on the young Marina. Her beauty and talents arouse murderous hatred in…

Act 4, scene 1

Dionyza’s hired murderer, Leonine, is prevented from murdering Marina by pirates, who carry her away to their ship.

Act 4, scene 2

Marina is sold by the pirates to a brothel in Mytilene.

Act 4, scene 3

Dionyza, after Leonine has (falsely) reported Marina’s death, now justifies her actions to a horrified Cleon.

Act 4, scene 4

Gower tells of Pericles’ arrival in Tarsus, his learning of Marina’s death, and his vow of perpetual mourning.

Act 4, scene 5

In Mytilene, Marina preserves her virginity through eloquent pleas to her potential customers. We see the effect on two such…

Act 4, scene 6

Lysimachus, the governor of Mytilene, arrives at the brothel and is so moved (or shamed) by Marina’s eloquence that he…

Act 5, 5 chorus

Gower describes Marina’s success in Mytilene and tells of Pericles’ ship landing on Mytilene’s shores.

Act 5, scene 1

Lysimachus visits Pericles’ ship and sends for Marina, whose music he thinks will revive the grief-stricken king. When Marina tells…

Act 5, scene 2

Gower tells of the celebrations for Pericles in Mytilene and of the betrothal of Marina and Lysimachus.

Act 5, scene 3

At Diana’s temple in Ephesus, Thaisa recognizes Pericles as her husband and is reunited with him and with her daughter.

Act 5, epilogue

Gower reflects on the now-completed story and tells the fate of Cleon and Dionyza.

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Scene 2
Enter Pericles with an Attendant.

PERICLES 
 Let none disturb us. (Attendant exits.) Why should
 this change of thoughts,
 The sad companion dull-eyed Melancholy,
 Be my so used a guest as not an hour
5 In the day’s glorious walk or peaceful night,
 The tomb where grief should sleep, can breed me
 quiet?
 Here pleasures court mine eyes, and mine eyes shun
 them;
10 And danger, which I feared, is at Antioch,

23
Pericles, Prince of Tyre
ACT 1. SC. 2

 Whose arm seems far too short to hit me here.
 Yet neither pleasure’s art can joy my spirits,
 Nor yet the other’s distance comfort me.
 Then it is thus: the passions of the mind
15 That have their first conception by misdread
 Have after-nourishment and life by care;
 And what was first but fear what might be done
 Grows elder now, and cares it be not done.
 And so with me. The great Antiochus,
20 ’Gainst whom I am too little to contend,
 Since he’s so great can make his will his act,
 Will think me speaking though I swear to silence;
 Nor boots it me to say I honor him
 If he suspect I may dishonor him.
25 And what may make him blush in being known,
 He’ll stop the course by which it might be known.
 With hostile forces he’ll o’er-spread the land,
 And with th’ ostent of war will look so huge
 Amazement shall drive courage from the state,
30 Our men be vanquished ere they do resist,
 And subjects punished that ne’er thought offense;
 Which care of them, not pity of myself,
 Who am no more but as the tops of trees
 Which fence the roots they grow by and defend them,
35 Makes both my body pine and soul to languish
 And punish that before that he would punish.

Enter Helicanus and all the Lords to Pericles.

FIRST LORD 
 Joy and all comfort in your sacred breast.
SECOND LORD 
 And keep your mind till you return to us
 Peaceful and comfortable.
HELICANUS 
40 Peace, peace, and give experience tongue.
 They do abuse the King that flatter him,

25
Pericles, Prince of Tyre
ACT 1. SC. 2

 For flattery is the bellows blows up sin;
 The thing the which is flattered, but a spark
 To which that wind gives heat and stronger glowing;
45 Whereas reproof, obedient and in order,
 Fits kings as they are men, for they may err.
 When Signior Sooth here does proclaim peace,
 He flatters you, makes war upon your life.
He kneels.
 Prince, pardon me, or strike me, if you please.
50 I cannot be much lower than my knees.
PERICLES 
 All leave us else; but let your cares o’erlook
 What shipping and what lading’s in our haven,
 And then return to us.The Lords exit.
 Helicanus,
55 Thou hast moved us. What seest thou in our looks?
HELICANUS An angry brow, dread lord.
PERICLES 
 If there be such a dart in princes’ frowns,
 How durst thy tongue move anger to our face?
HELICANUS 
 How dares the plants look up to heaven,
60 From whence they have their nourishment?
PERICLES 
 Thou knowest I have power to take thy life from thee.
HELICANUS I have ground the ax myself;
 Do but you strike the blow.
PERICLES 
 Rise, prithee rise.Helicanus rises.
65 Sit down. Thou art no flatterer.
 I thank thee for ’t; and heaven forbid
 That kings should let their ears hear their faults hid.
 Fit counselor and servant for a prince,
 Who by thy wisdom makes a prince thy servant,
70 What wouldst thou have me do?
HELICANUS To bear with patience such griefs
 As you yourself do lay upon yourself.

27
Pericles, Prince of Tyre
ACT 1. SC. 2

PERICLES 
 Thou speak’st like a physician, Helicanus,
 That ministers a potion unto me
75 That thou wouldst tremble to receive thyself.
 Attend me, then: I went to Antioch,
 Where, as thou know’st, against the face of death
 I sought the purchase of a glorious beauty
 From whence an issue I might propagate,
80 Are arms to princes and bring joys to subjects.
 Her face was to mine eye beyond all wonder,
 The rest—hark in thine ear—as black as incest,
 Which by my knowledge found, the sinful father
 Seemed not to strike, but smooth. But thou know’st
85 this:
 ’Tis time to fear when tyrants seems to kiss;
 Which fear so grew in me I hither fled
 Under the covering of a careful night,
 Who seemed my good protector; and, being here,
90 Bethought me what was past, what might succeed.
 I knew him tyrannous, and tyrants’ fears
 Decrease not but grow faster than the years;
 And should he doubt, as no doubt he doth,
 That I should open to the list’ning air
95 How many worthy princes’ bloods were shed
 To keep his bed of blackness unlaid ope,
 To lop that doubt he’ll fill this land with arms,
 And make pretense of wrong that I have done him;
 When all, for mine—if I may call ’t—offense,
100 Must feel war’s blow, who spares not innocence;
 Which love to all—of which thyself art one,
 Who now reproved’st me for ’t—
HELICANUS Alas, sir!
PERICLES 
 Drew sleep out of mine eyes, blood from my cheeks,
105 Musings into my mind, with thousand doubts
 How I might stop this tempest ere it came;
 And finding little comfort to relieve them,

29
Pericles, Prince of Tyre
ACT 1. SC. 3

 I thought it princely charity to grieve for them.
HELICANUS 
 Well, my lord, since you have given me leave to speak,
110 Freely will I speak. Antiochus you fear,
 And justly too, I think, you fear the tyrant,
 Who either by public war or private treason
 Will take away your life.
 Therefore, my lord, go travel for a while,
115 Till that his rage and anger be forgot,
 Or till the Destinies do cut his thread of life.
 Your rule direct to any. If to me,
 Day serves not light more faithful than I’ll be.
PERICLES I do not doubt thy faith.
120 But should he wrong my liberties in my absence?
HELICANUS 
 We’ll mingle our bloods together in the earth,
 From whence we had our being and our birth.
PERICLES 
 Tyre, I now look from thee, then, and to Tarsus
 Intend my travel, where I’ll hear from thee,
125 And by whose letters I’ll dispose myself.
 The care I had and have of subjects’ good
 On thee I lay, whose wisdom’s strength can bear it.
 I’ll take thy word for faith, not ask thine oath.
 Who shuns not to break one will crack both.
130 But in our orbs we’ll live so round and safe
 That time of both this truth shall ne’er convince.
 Thou showed’st a subject’s shine, I a true prince.
They exit.