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Pericles
Act 2, scene 4

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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 4
Enter Helicanus and Escanes.

HELICANUS 
 No, Escanes, know this of me:
 Antiochus from incest lived not free,
 For which the most high gods not minding longer
 To withhold the vengeance that they had in store
5 Due to this heinous capital offense,
 Even in the height and pride of all his glory,
 When he was seated in a chariot of
 An inestimable value, and his daughter with him,
 A fire from heaven came and shriveled up
10 Those bodies even to loathing, for they so stunk
 That all those eyes adored them, ere their fall,
 Scorn now their hand should give them burial.
ESCANES ’Twas very strange.
HELICANUS 
 And yet but justice; for though this king were great,
15 His greatness was no guard to bar heaven’s shaft,
 But sin had his reward.

73
Pericles, Prince of Tyre
ACT 2. SC. 4

ESCANES  ’Tis very true.

Enter two or three Lords.

FIRST LORD 
 See, not a man in private conference
 Or counsel has respect with him but he.
SECOND LORD 
20 It shall no longer grieve without reproof.
THIRD LORD 
 And cursed be he that will not second it.
FIRST LORD 
 Follow me, then.—Lord Helicane, a word.
HELICANUS 
 With me? And welcome. Happy day, my lords.
FIRST LORD 
 Know that our griefs are risen to the top,
25 And now at length they overflow their banks.
HELICANUS 
 Your griefs? For what? Wrong not your prince you
 love.
FIRST LORD 
 Wrong not yourself, then, noble Helicane.
 But if the Prince do live, let us salute him,
30 Or know what ground’s made happy by his breath.
 If in the world he live, we’ll seek him out;
 If in his grave he rest, we’ll find him there,
 And be resolved he lives to govern us,
 Or dead, give ’s cause to mourn his funeral
35 And leave us to our free election.
SECOND LORD 
 Whose death’s indeed the strongest in our censure;
 And knowing this kingdom is without a head—
 Like goodly buildings left without a roof
 Soon fall to ruin—your noble self,
40 That best know how to rule and how to reign,
 We thus submit unto, our sovereign.

75
Pericles, Prince of Tyre
ACT 2. SC. 5

ALL Live, noble Helicane!
HELICANUS 
 Try honor’s cause; forbear your suffrages.
 If that you love Prince Pericles, forbear.
45 Take I your wish, I leap into the seas,
 Where’s hourly trouble for a minute’s ease.
 A twelve-month longer let me entreat you
 To forbear the absence of your king;
 If in which time expired, he not return,
50 I shall with agèd patience bear your yoke.
 But if I cannot win you to this love,
 Go search like nobles, like noble subjects,
 And in your search spend your adventurous worth,
 Whom if you find and win unto return,
55 You shall like diamonds sit about his crown.
FIRST LORD 
 To wisdom he’s a fool that will not yield.
 And since Lord Helicane enjoineth us,
 We with our travels will endeavor.
HELICANUS 
 Then you love us, we you, and we’ll clasp hands.
60 When peers thus knit, a kingdom ever stands.
They exit.