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Pericles   By: (1564-1616)

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by William Shakespeare


ANTIOCHUS, king of Antioch. PERICLES, prince of Tyre. HELICANUS, ESCANES, two lords of Tyre. SIMONIDES, kIng of Pentapolis. CLEON, governor of Tarsus. LYSIMACHUS, governor of Mytilene. CERIMON, a lord of Ephesus. THALIARD, a lord of Antioch. PFIILEMON, servant to Cerimon. LEONINE, servant to Dionyza. Marshal. A Pandar. BOULT, his servant. The Daughter of Antiochus. DIONYZA, wife to Cleon. THAISA, daughter to Simonides. MARINA, daughter to Pericles and Thaisa. LYCHORIDA, nurse to Marina. A Bawd. Lords, Knights, Gentlemen, Sailors, Pirates, Fishermen, and Messengers. DIANA. GOWER, as Chorus.

SCENE: Dispersedly in various countries.


[Enter GOWER.]

[Before the palace of Antioch.]

To sing a song that old was sung, From ashes ancient Gower is come; Assuming man's infirmities, To glad your ear, and please your eyes. It hath been sung at festivals, On ember eves and holy ales; And lords and ladies in their lives Have read it for restoratives: The purchase is to make men glorious; Et bonum quo antiquius, eo melius. If you, born in these latter times, When wit's more ripe, accept my rhymes, And that to hear an old man sing May to your wishes pleasure bring, I life would wish, and that I might Waste it for you, like taper light. This Antioch, then, Antiochus the Great Built up, this city, for his chiefest seat; The fairest in all Syria, I tell you what mine authors say: This king unto him took a fere, Who died and left a female heir, So buxom, so blithe, and full of face, As heaven had lent her all his grace; With whom the father liking took, And her to incest did provoke: Bad child; worse father! to entice his own To evil should be done by none: But custom what they did begin Was with long use account no sin. The beauty of this sinful dame Made many princes thither frame, To seek her as a bed fellow, In marriage pleasures play fellow: Which to prevent he made a law, To keep her still, and men in awe, That whoso ask'd her for his wife, His riddle told not, lost his life: So for her many a wight did die, As yon grim looks do testify. What now ensues, to the judgement your eye I give, my cause who lest can justify.


SCENE I. Antioch. A room in the palace.

[Enter ANTIOCHUS, PRINCE PERICLES, and followers.]

ANTIOCHUS. Young prince of Tyre, you have at large received The danger of the task you undertake.

PERICLES. I have, Antiochus, and, with a soul Embolden'd with the glory of her praise, Think death no hazard in this enterprise.

ANTIOCHUS. Bring in our daughter, clothed like a bride, For the embracements even of Jove himself; At whose conception, till Lucina reign'd, Nature this dowry gave, to glad her presence, The senate house of planets all did sit, To knit in her their best perfections.

[Music. Enter the Daughter of Antiochus.]

PERICLES See where she comes, apparell'd like the spring, Graces her subjects, and her thoughts the king Of every virtue gives renown to men! Her face the book of praises, where is read Nothing but curious pleasures, as from thence Sorrow were ever razed, and testy wrath Could never be her mild companion. You gods that made me man, and sway in love, That have inflamed desire in my breast To taste the fruit of yon celestal tree, Or die in the adventure, be my helps, As I am son and servant to your will, To compass such a boundless happiness!

ANTIOCHUS. Prince Pericles,

PERICLES. That would be son to great Antiochus.

ANTIOCHUS. Before thee stands this fair Hesperides, With golden fruit, but dangerous to be touch'd; For death like dragons here affright thee hard: Her face, like heaven, enticeth thee to view Her countless glory, which desert must gain; And which, without desert, because thine eye Presumes to reach, all thy whole heap must die. Yon sometimes famous princes, like thyself, Drawn by report, adventurous by desire, Tell thee, with speechless tongues and semblance pale, That without covering, save yon field of stars, Here they stand Martyrs, slain in Cupid's wars; And with dead cheeks advise thee to desist For going on death's net, whom none resist... Continue reading book >>

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