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Pericles - Act 1, scene 1
Last updated: Fri, Jul 31, 2015
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Navigate this workPericles - Act 1, scene 1
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 incest between her and her father. In mortal danger, he flees Antioch. Antiochus sends Thaliard to kill Pericles.Enter Antiochus, Prince Pericles, and followers.
0043 Young Prince of Tyre, you have at large received
0044 The danger of the task you undertake.
0045 I have, Antiochus, and with a soul
0046 Emboldened with the glory of her praise
0047 5 Think death no hazard in this enterprise.
0048 Music!⌜Music sounds offstage.⌝
0049 Bring in our daughter, clothèd like a bride
0050 For embracements even of Jove himself,
0051 At whose conception, till Lucina reigned,
0052 10 Nature this dowry gave: to glad her presence,
0053 The senate house of planets all did sit
0054 To knit in her their best perfections.
Enter Antiochus’ daughter.
0055 See where she comes, appareled like the spring,
0056 Graces her subjects, and her thoughts the king
0057 15 Of every virtue gives renown to men!
0058 Her face the book of praises, where is read
0059 Nothing but curious pleasures, as from thence
0060 Sorrow were ever ⌜razed,⌝ and testy wrath
0061 Could never be her mild companion.
0062 20 You gods that made me man, and sway in love,
0063 That have inflamed desire in my breast
0064 To taste the fruit of yon celestial tree
0065 Or die in th’ adventure, be my helps,
0066 As I am son and servant to your will,
0067 25 To compass such a boundless happiness.
0068 Prince Pericles—
0069 That would be son to great Antiochus.
0070 Before thee stands this fair Hesperides,
0071 With golden fruit, but dangerous to be touched;
0072 30 For deathlike dragons here affright thee hard.
0073 Her face, like heaven, enticeth thee to view
0074 Her countless glory, which desert must gain;
0075 And which without desert, because thine eye
0076 Presumes to reach, all the whole heap must die.
p. 13⌜He points to the heads.⌝
0077 35 Yon sometimes famous princes, like thyself,
0078 Drawn by report, advent’rous by desire,
0079 Tell thee with speechless tongues and semblance pale
0080 That, without covering save yon field of stars,
0081 Here they stand martyrs slain in Cupid’s wars,
0082 40 And with dead cheeks advise thee to desist
0083 For going on death’s net, whom none resist.
0084 Antiochus, I thank thee, who hath taught
0085 My frail mortality to know itself,
0086 And by those fearful objects to prepare
0087 45 This body, like to them, to what I must.
0088 For death remembered should be like a mirror
0089 Who tells us life’s but breath, to trust it error.
0090 I’ll make my will, then, and as sick men do
0091 Who know the world, see heaven but, feeling woe,
0092 50 Gripe not at earthly joys as erst they did;
0093 So I bequeath a happy peace to you
0094 And all good men, as every prince should do;
0095 My riches to the earth from whence they came,
0096 ⌜To the Daughter.⌝ But my unspotted fire of love to
0097 55 you.—
0098 Thus ready for the way of life or death,
0099 I wait the sharpest blow.
0100 Scorning advice, read the conclusion, then:
0101 Which read and not expounded, ’tis decreed,
0102 60 As these before thee, thou thyself shalt bleed.
0103 Of all ’sayed yet, mayst thou prove prosperous;
0104 Of all ’sayed yet, I wish thee happiness.
0105 Like a bold champion I assume the lists,
0106 Nor ask advice of any other thought
0107 65 But faithfulness and courage.
p. 15⌜He reads⌝ the Riddle:
0108 I am no viper, yet I feed
0109 On mother’s flesh which did me breed.
0110 I sought a husband, in which labor
0111 I found that kindness in a father.
0112 70 He’s father, son, and husband mild;
0113 I mother, wife, and yet his child.
0114 How they may be, and yet in two,
0115 As you will live resolve it you.
0116 ⌜Aside.⌝ Sharp physic is the last! But, O you powers
0117 75 That gives heaven countless eyes to view men’s acts,
0118 Why cloud they not their sights perpetually
0119 If this be true which makes me pale to read it?
0120 Fair glass of light, I loved you, and could still
0121 Were not this glorious casket stored with ill.
0122 80 But I must tell you now my thoughts revolt;
0123 For he’s no man on whom perfections wait
0124 That, knowing sin within, will touch the gate.
0125 You are a fair viol, and your sense the strings
0126 Who, fingered to make man his lawful music,
0127 85 Would draw heaven down and all the gods to
0129 But, being played upon before your time,
0130 Hell only danceth at so harsh a chime.
0131 Good sooth, I care not for you.
0132 90 Prince Pericles, touch not, upon thy life,
0133 For that’s an article within our law
0134 As dangerous as the rest. Your time’s expired.
0135 Either expound now or receive your sentence.
PERICLES 0136 Great king,
0137 95 Few love to hear the sins they love to act.
0138 ’Twould braid yourself too near for me to tell it.
0139 Who has a book of all that monarchs do,
0140 He’s more secure to keep it shut than shown.
0141 For vice repeated is like the wand’ring wind,
0142 100 Blows dust in others’ eyes to spread itself;
p. 170143 And yet the end of all is bought thus dear:
0144 The breath is gone, and the sore eyes see clear
0145 To stop the air would hurt them. The blind mole casts
0146 Copped hills towards heaven, to tell the Earth is
0147 105 thronged
0148 By man’s oppression, and the poor worm doth die
0149 for ’t.
0150 Kings are Earth’s gods; in vice their law’s their will;
0151 And if Jove stray, who dares say Jove doth ill?
0152 110 It is enough you know; and it is fit,
0153 What being more known grows worse, to smother it.
0154 All love the womb that their first being bred;
0155 Then give my tongue like leave to love my head.
0156 Heaven, that I had thy head! He has found the
0157 115 meaning.
0158 But I will gloze with him.—Young Prince of Tyre,
0159 Though by the tenor of ⌜our⌝ strict edict,
0160 Your exposition misinterpreting,
0161 We might proceed to ⌜cancel⌝ of your days,
0162 120 Yet hope, succeeding from so fair a tree
0163 As your fair self, doth tune us otherwise.
0164 Forty days longer we do respite you,
0165 If by which time our secret be undone,
0166 This mercy shows we’ll joy in such a son.
0167 125 And until then, your entertain shall be
0168 As doth befit our honor and your worth.
All except Pericles exit.
0169 How courtesy would seem to cover sin
0170 When what is done is like an hypocrite,
0171 The which is good in nothing but in sight.
0172 130 If it be true that I interpret false,
0173 Then were it certain you were not so bad
0174 As with foul incest to abuse your soul;
0175 Where now ⌜you’re⌝ both a father and a son
p. 190176 By your untimely claspings with your child,
0177 135 Which pleasures fits a husband, not a father,
0178 And she an eater of her mother’s flesh
0179 By the defiling of her parents’ bed;
0180 And both like serpents are, who, though they feed
0181 On sweetest flowers, yet they poison breed.
0182 140 Antioch, farewell, for wisdom sees those men
0183 Blush not in actions blacker than the night
0184 Will ⌜’schew⌝ no course to keep them from the light.
0185 One sin, I know, another doth provoke;
0186 Murder’s as near to lust as flame to smoke.
0187 145 Poison and treason are the hands of sin,
0188 Ay, and the targets to put off the shame.
0189 Then, lest my life be cropped to keep you clear,
0190 By flight I’ll shun the danger which I fear.He exits.
ANTIOCHUS 0191 He hath found the meaning,
0192 150 For which we mean to have his head.
0193 He must not live to trumpet forth my infamy,
0194 Nor tell the world Antiochus doth sin
0195 In such a loathèd manner.
0196 And therefore instantly this prince must die,
0197 155 For by his fall my honor must keep high.—
0198 Who attends us there?
THALIARD 0199 Doth your Highness call?
0200 Thaliard, you are of our chamber, Thaliard,
0201 And our mind partakes her private actions
0202 160 To your secrecy; and for your faithfulness
0203 We will advance you, Thaliard. Behold,
0204 Here’s poison, and here’s gold. ⌜He gives poison and
money.⌝ 0205 We hate the Prince
0206 Of Tyre, and thou must kill him. It fits thee not
p. 210207 165 To ask the reason why: because we bid it.
0208 Say, is it done?
THALIARD 0209 My lord, ’tis done.
ANTIOCHUS 0210 Enough.
Enter a Messenger.
0211 Let your breath cool yourself, telling your haste.
MESSENGER 0212 170My lord, Prince Pericles is fled.⌜He exits.⌝
ANTIOCHUS, ⌜to Thaliard⌝ 0213 As thou wilt live, fly after,
0214 and like an arrow shot from a well-experienced
0215 archer hits the mark his eye doth level at, so thou
0216 never return unless thou say Prince Pericles is
0217 175 dead.
THALIARD 0218 My lord, if I can get him within my pistol’s
0219 length, I’ll make him sure enough. So, farewell to
0220 your Highness.
0221 Thaliard, adieu. Till Pericles be dead,
0222 180 My heart can lend no succor to my head.