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Pericles
Act 1, scene 4

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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 4
Enter Cleon the Governor of Tarsus, with his wife
Dionyza and others.


CLEON 
 My Dionyza, shall we rest us here
 And, by relating tales of others’ griefs,
 See if ’twill teach us to forget our own?
DIONYZA 
 That were to blow at fire in hope to quench it;
5 For who digs hills because they do aspire
 Throws down one mountain to cast up a higher.
 O, my distressèd lord, even such our griefs are.
 Here they are but felt, and seen with mischief’s eyes,
 But like to groves, being topped, they higher rise.
CLEON 10O Dionyza,
 Who wanteth food, and will not say he wants it,
 Or can conceal his hunger till he famish?
 Our tongues and sorrows do sound deep our woes
 Into the air, our eyes do weep till lungs
15 Fetch breath that may proclaim them louder, that
 If heaven slumber while their creatures want,
 They may awake their helpers to comfort them.
 I’ll then discourse our woes, felt several years,
 And, wanting breath to speak, help me with tears.

35
Pericles, Prince of Tyre
ACT 1. SC. 4

DIONYZA 20I’ll do my best, sir.
CLEON 
 This Tarsus, o’er which I have the government,
 A city on whom Plenty held full hand,
 For Riches strewed herself even in her streets;
 Whose towers bore heads so high they kissed the
25 clouds,
 And strangers ne’er beheld but wondered at;
 Whose men and dames so jetted and adorned,
 Like one another’s glass to trim them by;
 Their tables were stored full to glad the sight,
30 And not so much to feed on as delight;
 All poverty was scorned, and pride so great,
 The name of help grew odious to repeat.
DIONYZA O, ’tis too true.
CLEON 
 But see what heaven can do by this our change:
35 These mouths who but of late earth, sea, and air
 Were all too little to content and please,
 Although they gave their creatures in abundance,
 As houses are defiled for want of use,
 They are now starved for want of exercise.
40 Those palates who not yet two savors younger
 Must have inventions to delight the taste,
 Would now be glad of bread and beg for it.
 Those mothers who, to nuzzle up their babes,
 Thought naught too curious, are ready now
45 To eat those little darlings whom they loved.
 So sharp are hunger’s teeth that man and wife
 Draw lots who first shall die to lengthen life.
 Here stands a lord and there a lady weeping;
 Here many sink, yet those which see them fall
50 Have scarce strength left to give them burial.
 Is not this true?
DIONYZA 
 Our cheeks and hollow eyes do witness it.

37
Pericles, Prince of Tyre
ACT 1. SC. 4

CLEON 
 O, let those cities that of Plenty’s cup
 And her prosperities so largely taste,
55 With their superfluous riots, hear these tears.
 The misery of Tarsus may be theirs.

Enter a Lord.

LORD Where’s the Lord Governor?
CLEON Here.
 Speak out thy sorrows, which thee bring’st in haste,
60 For comfort is too far for us to expect.
LORD 
 We have descried upon our neighboring shore
 A portly sail of ships make hitherward.
CLEON I thought as much.
 One sorrow never comes but brings an heir
65 That may succeed as his inheritor;
 And so in ours. Some neighboring nation,
 Taking advantage of our misery,
 Hath stuffed the hollow vessels with their power
 To beat us down, the which are down already,
70 And make a conquest of unhappy men,
 Whereas no glory’s got to overcome.
LORD 
 That’s the least fear, for, by the semblance
 Of their white flags displayed, they bring us peace
 And come to us as favorers, not as foes.
CLEON 
75 Thou speak’st like him’s untutored to repeat
 “Who makes the fairest show means most deceit.”
 But bring they what they will and what they can,
 What need we fear?
 The ground’s the lowest, and we are halfway there.
80 Go tell their general we attend him here,
 To know for what he comes and whence he comes
 And what he craves.

39
Pericles, Prince of Tyre
ACT 1. SC. 4

LORD I go, my lord.He exits.
CLEON 
 Welcome is peace, if he on peace consist;
85 If wars, we are unable to resist.

Enter Pericles with Attendants.

PERICLES 
 Lord Governor, for so we hear you are,
 Let not our ships and number of our men
 Be like a beacon fired t’ amaze your eyes.
 We have heard your miseries as far as Tyre
90 And seen the desolation of your streets;
 Nor come we to add sorrow to your tears,
 But to relieve them of their heavy load;
 And these our ships, you happily may think
 Are like the Trojan horse was stuffed within
95 With bloody veins expecting overthrow,
 Are stored with corn to make your needy bread
 And give them life whom hunger starved half dead.
ALL, kneeling 
 The gods of Greece protect you, and we’ll pray for
 you.
PERICLES 100Arise, I pray you, rise.
 We do not look for reverence, but for love,
 And harborage for ourself, our ships, and men.
CLEON, rising, with the others 
 The which when any shall not gratify
 Or pay you with unthankfulness in thought,
105 Be it our wives, our children, or ourselves,
 The curse of heaven and men succeed their evils!
 Till when—the which I hope shall ne’er be seen—
 Your Grace is welcome to our town and us.
PERICLES 
 Which welcome we’ll accept, feast here awhile,
110 Until our stars that frown lend us a smile.
They exit.