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PERICLES, Prince of Tyre, was entered on the Stationers' books May 2, 1608, by Edward Blount, and was printed in the following year, by Henry Gosson. The text of this play, so printed, is corruption itself; and despite the infinite pains that have since been bestowed upon it, that text still remains, in all probability, far from accurate. As to the authorship of the play, though its position in this edition of Shakspeare indicates that the parentage has been doubted, yet the balance of criticism appears favourable to its claim upon the great poet to what extent, is another question. Aulus Gellius tells us that several plays are ascribed absolutely to Plautus, which he merely repolished and retouched; and this, no doubt, was the case with Shakspeare. This, at all events, is certain, that the play was extremely successful on the stage.



ANTIOCHUS, King of Antioch.
PERICLES, Prince of Tyre.
HELICANUS, Two Lords of Tyre.

SIMONIDES, King of Pentapolis.
CLEON, Governor of Tharsus.
LYSIMACHUS, Governor of Mity-

CERIMON, a Lord of Ephesus.
THALIARD, a Lord of Antioch.
PHILEMON, Servant to Cerimon.
LEONINE, Servant to Dionyza.

A PANDER, and his WIFE.
BOULT, their Servant.

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SCENE.-Dispersedly in various countries.*


Enter GOWER.

Before the Palace of Antioch.

To sing a song of 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 festival,

On Ember-eves, and Holy ale;†

And lords and ladies of their lives
Have read it for restoratives,
'Purpose to make men glorious;
Et quo antiquius, eo melius.

* That the reader may know through how many regions the scene of this drama is dispersed, it is necessary to observe, that Antioch was the metropolis of Syria; Tyre, a city of Phoenicia in Asia; Tarsus, the metropolis of Cilicia, a country of Asia Minor; Mitylene, the capital of Lesbos, an island in the Egean Sea; and Ephesus, the capital of Ionia country of the Lesser Asia.

† Whitsuntide, &c.


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 city then, Antioch the Great
Built up for his chiefest seat;
The fairest in all Syria

(I tell you what mine authors say):
This king unto him took a pheere,*
Who died and left a female heir,
So buxom, blithe, and fair of face,
As heaven had lent her all his grace;
With whom the father liking took,
And her to incest did provoke :
Bad father! to entice his own
To evil, should be done by none.
By 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 judgment of your eye
I give, my cause who best can justify.

SCENE I-Antioch. A Room in the Palace.
Enter ANTIOCHUS, PERICLES, and Attendants.

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

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

Ant. 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.


Per. See, where she comes, apparell'd like the spring, Graces her subjects, and her thoughts the king

*Wife, partner.

+ Accounted.



Pointing to the palace gate at Antioch, on which the heads of these unfortunate wights were fixed.

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.*

Ye gods that made me man, and sway in love
That have inflamed desire in my breast,
To taste the fruit of yon celestial tree,
Or die in the adventure, be my helps,
As am son and servant to your will,
To compass such a boundless happiness!
Ant. Prince Pericles,-

Per. That would be son to great Antiochus.
Ant. 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
A countless glory, which desert must gain:
And which, without desert, because thine eye
Presumes to reach, all thy whole heap must die.
Yon sometime famous princes, like thyself,
Drawn by report, advent'rous by desire,

Tell thee with speechless tongues, and semblance pale,
That, without covering, save yon field of stars,
They here stand martyrs, slain in Cupid's wars;
And with dead cheeks advise thee to desist,
For going on death's net, whom none resist.

Per. Antiochus, I thank thee, who hath taught
My frail mortality to know itself,

And by those fearful objects to prepare
This body, like to them, to what I must:

For death remember'd, should be like a mirror,
Who tells us, life 's but breath; to trust it, error.
I'll make my will then; and as sick men do,

Who know the world, see heaven, but feeling woe,
Gripe not at earthly joys, as erst they did;
So I bequeath a happy peace to you,

And all good men, as every prince should do;
My riches to the earth from whence they came;
But my unspotted fire of love to you.


Thus ready for the way of life or death,
I wait the sharpest blow, Antiochus,
Scorning advice.

Ant. Read the conclusiont then;

Which read and not expounded, 'tis decreed,

As these before thee thou thyself shalt bleed.

Daugh. In all, save that, mayst thou prove prosperous!

In all, save that, I wish thee happiness!

Per. Like a bold champion, I assume the lists,

* Companion of her mildness.

+ Experiment, riddle.

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