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Pericles
Act 2, scene 1

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Characters in the Play

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 1
Enter Pericles, wet.

PERICLES 
 Yet cease your ire, you angry stars of heaven!
 Wind, rain, and thunder, remember earthly man
 Is but a substance that must yield to you,
 And I, as fits my nature, do obey you.
5 Alas, the seas hath cast me on the rocks,

47
Pericles, Prince of Tyre
ACT 2. SC. 1

 Washed me from shore to shore, and left my breath
 Nothing to think on but ensuing death.
 Let it suffice the greatness of your powers
 To have bereft a prince of all his fortunes;
10 And, having thrown him from your wat’ry grave,
 Here to have death in peace is all he’ll crave.

Enter three Fishermen.

FIRST FISHERMAN What ho, Pilch!
SECOND FISHERMAN Ha, come and bring away the nets!
FIRST FISHERMAN What, Patchbreech, I say!
THIRD FISHERMAN 15What say you, master?
FIRST FISHERMAN Look how thou stirr’st now! Come
 away, or I’ll fetch thee with a wanion.
THIRD FISHERMAN Faith, master, I am thinking of the
 poor men that were cast away before us even now.
FIRST FISHERMAN 20Alas, poor souls, it grieved my heart
 to hear what pitiful cries they made to us to help
 them, when, welladay, we could scarce help
 ourselves!
THIRD FISHERMAN Nay, master, said not I as much
25 when I saw the porpoise how he bounced and tumbled?
 They say they’re half fish, half flesh. A plague
 on them! They ne’er come but I look to be washed.
 Master, I marvel how the fishes live in the sea.
FIRST FISHERMAN Why, as men do a-land: the great
30 ones eat up the little ones. I can compare our rich
 misers to nothing so fitly as to a whale: he plays
 and tumbles, driving the poor fry before him and
 at last devours them all at a mouthful. Such
 whales have I heard on a’ the land, who never leave
35 gaping till they swallowed the whole parish—
 church, steeple, bells and all.
PERICLES, aside A pretty moral.
THIRD FISHERMAN But, master, if I had been the sexton,
 I would have been that day in the belfry.

49
Pericles, Prince of Tyre
ACT 2. SC. 1

SECOND FISHERMAN 40Why, man?
THIRD FISHERMAN Because he should have swallowed
 me too. And when I had been in his belly, I would
 have kept such a jangling of the bells that he should
 never have left till he cast bells, steeple, church, and
45 parish up again. But if the good King Simonides
 were of my mind—
PERICLES, aside Simonides?
THIRD FISHERMAN We would purge the land of these
 drones that rob the bee of her honey.
PERICLES, aside 
50 How from the finny subject of the sea
 These fishers tell the infirmities of men,
 And from their wat’ry empire recollect
 All that may men approve or men detect!—
 Peace be at your labor, honest fishermen.
SECOND FISHERMAN 55Honest good fellow, what’s that? If
 it be a day fits you, search out of the calendar, and
 nobody look after it!
PERICLES 
 May see the sea hath cast upon your coast—
SECOND FISHERMAN What a drunken knave was the sea
60 to cast thee in our way!
PERICLES 
 A man whom both the waters and the wind
 In that vast tennis court hath made the ball
 For them to play upon entreats you pity him.
 He asks of you that never used to beg.
FIRST FISHERMAN 65No, friend, cannot you beg? Here’s
 them in our country of Greece gets more with begging
 than we can do with working.
SECOND FISHERMAN, to Pericles Canst thou catch any
 fishes, then?
PERICLES 70I never practiced it.
SECOND FISHERMAN Nay, then, thou wilt starve sure,
 for here’s nothing to be got nowadays unless thou
 canst fish for ’t.

51
Pericles, Prince of Tyre
ACT 2. SC. 1

PERICLES 
 What I have been I have forgot to know,
75 But what I am want teaches me to think on:
 A man thronged up with cold. My veins are chill
 And have no more of life than may suffice
 To give my tongue that heat to ask your help—
 Which, if you shall refuse, when I am dead,
80 For that I am a man, pray you see me buried.
FIRST FISHERMAN Die, quotha? Now gods forbid ’t, an I
 have a gown. Here, come, put it on; keep thee
 warm. Pericles puts on the garment. Now, afore
 me, a handsome fellow! Come, thou shalt go home,
85 and we’ll have flesh for holidays, fish for fasting
 days, and, moreo’er, puddings and flapjacks, and
 thou shalt be welcome.
PERICLES I thank you, sir.
SECOND FISHERMAN Hark you, my friend. You said you
90 could not beg?
PERICLES I did but crave.
SECOND FISHERMAN But crave? Then I’ll turn craver
 too, and so I shall ’scape whipping.
PERICLES Why, are your beggars whipped, then?
SECOND FISHERMAN 95O, not all, my friend, not all; for if
 all your beggars were whipped, I would wish no
 better office than to be beadle.—But, master, I’ll go
 draw up the net.He exits with Third Fisherman.
PERICLES, aside 
 How well this honest mirth becomes their labor!
FIRST FISHERMAN 100Hark you, sir, do you know where
 you are?
PERICLES Not well.
FIRST FISHERMAN Why, I’ll tell you. This is called Pentapolis,
 and our king the good Simonides.
PERICLES 105“The good Simonides” do you call him?
FIRST FISHERMAN Ay, sir, and he deserves so to be called
 for his peaceable reign and good government.

53
Pericles, Prince of Tyre
ACT 2. SC. 1

PERICLES He is a happy king, since he gains from his
 subjects the name of “good” by his government.
110 How far is his court distant from this shore?
FIRST FISHERMAN Marry, sir, half a day’s journey. And
 I’ll tell you, he hath a fair daughter, and tomorrow
 is her birthday; and there are princes and knights
 come from all parts of the world to joust and tourney
115 for her love.
PERICLES Were my fortunes equal to my desires, I
 could wish to make one there.
FIRST FISHERMAN O, sir, things must be as they may;
 and what a man cannot get he may lawfully deal
120 for his wife’s soul.

Enter the two other Fishermen, drawing up a net.

SECOND FISHERMAN Help, master, help! Here’s a fish
 hangs in the net like a poor man’s right in the law:
 ’twill hardly come out. Ha! Bots on ’t, ’tis come at
 last, and ’tis turned to a rusty armor.
PERICLES 
125 An armor, friends? I pray you let me see it.
They pull out the armor.
 Thanks, Fortune, yet, that after all thy crosses
 Thou givest me somewhat to repair myself;
 And though it was mine own, part of my heritage
 Which my dead father did bequeath to me
130 With this strict charge even as he left his life,
 “Keep it, my Pericles; it hath been a shield
 ’Twixt me and death,” and pointed to this brace,
 “For that it saved me, keep it. In like necessity—
 The which the gods protect thee frommay ’t
135 defend thee.”
 It kept where I kept, I so dearly loved it,
 Till the rough seas, that spares not any man,
 Took it in rage, though calmed have given ’t again.
 I thank thee for ’t; my shipwrack now’s no ill
140 Since I have here my father gave in his will.

55
Pericles, Prince of Tyre
ACT 2. SC. 1

FIRST FISHERMAN What mean you, sir?
PERICLES 
 To beg of you, kind friends, this coat of worth,
 For it was sometime target to a king;
 I know it by this mark. He loved me dearly,
145 And for his sake I wish the having of it,
 And that you’d guide me to your sovereign’s court,
 Where with it I may appear a gentleman.
 And if that ever my low fortune’s better,
 I’ll pay your bounties; till then, rest your debtor.
FIRST FISHERMAN 150Why, wilt thou tourney for the lady?
PERICLES 
 I’ll show the virtue I have borne in arms.
FIRST FISHERMAN Why, do ’ee take it, and the gods give
 thee good on ’t.
SECOND FISHERMAN Ay, but hark you, my friend, ’twas
155 we that made up this garment through the rough
 seams of the waters. There are certain condolements,
 certain vails. I hope, sir, if you thrive, you’ll
 remember from whence you had them.
PERICLES Believe ’t, I will.He puts on the armor.
160 By your furtherance I am clothed in steel,
 And spite of all the rupture of the sea,
 This jewel holds his biding on my arm.
 Unto thy value I will mount myself
 Upon a courser, whose delightful steps
165 Shall make the gazer joy to see him tread.
 Only, my friend, I yet am unprovided
 Of a pair of bases.
SECOND FISHERMAN We’ll sure provide. Thou shalt have
 my best gown to make thee a pair; and I’ll bring
170 thee to the court myself.
PERICLES 
 Then honor be but a goal to my will;
 This day I’ll rise or else add ill to ill.
They exit.