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Last updated: Fri, Jul 31, 2015
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Navigate this workPericles
Act 1, 1 Chorus
Gower sets the stage for Pericles’ entrance at Antioch by telling of the incest between Antiochus and his daughter, whom Pericles seeks to marry.Enter Gower.
0001 To sing a song that old was sung,
0002 From ashes ancient Gower is come,
0003 Assuming man’s infirmities
0004 To glad your ear and please your eyes.
0005 5 It hath been sung at festivals,
0006 On ember eves and holy days,
0007 And lords and ladies in their lives
0008 Have read it for restoratives.
0009 The purchase is to make men glorious,
0010 10 Et bonum quo antiquius, eo melius.
0011 If you, born in ⌜these⌝ latter times
0012 When wit’s more ripe, accept my rhymes,
0013 And that to hear an old man sing
0014 May to your wishes pleasure bring,
0015 15 I life would wish, and that I might
0016 Waste it for you like taper light.
0017 This Antioch, then: Antiochus the Great
0018 Built up this city for his chiefest seat,
0019 The fairest in all Syria.
0020 20 I tell you what mine authors say.
0021 This king unto him took a peer,
0022 Who died and left a female heir
p. 90023 So buxom, blithe, and full of face
0024 As heaven had lent her all his grace;
0025 25 With whom the father liking took
0026 And her to incest did provoke.
0027 Bad child, worse father! To entice his own
0028 To evil should be done by none.
0029 But custom what they did begin
0030 30 Was with long use accounted no sin.
0031 The beauty of this sinful dame
0032 Made many princes thither frame
0033 To seek her as a bedfellow,
0034 In marriage pleasures playfellow;
0035 35 Which to prevent he made a law
0036 To keep her still, and men in awe,
0037 That whoso asked her for his wife,
0038 His riddle told not, lost his life.
0039 So for her many ⌜a⌝ wight did die,
0040 40 As yon grim looks do testify.
⌜He indicates heads above the stage.⌝
0041 What now ensues, to the judgment of your eye
0042 I give my cause, who best can justify.