This page contains the original text of Pericles Act 2, Scene 4. Shakespeare’s original Pericles text is extremely long, so we’ve split the text into one Scene per page. All Acts are listed on the Pericles text page, or linked to from the bottom of this page.
Pericles, Act 2, Scene 4.Tyre. A room in the Governor’s house.
Enter HELICANUS and ESCANES
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,
Due to this heinous capital offence,
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 shrivell’d up
Their 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.
‘Twas very strange.
And yet but justice; for though
This king were great, his greatness was no guard
To bar heaven’s shaft, but sin had his reward.
‘Tis very true.
Enter two or three Lords
See, not a man in private conference
Or council has respect with him but he.
It shall no longer grieve without reproof.
And cursed be he that will not second it.
Follow me, then. Lord Helicane, a word.
With me? and welcome: happy day, my lords.
Know that our griefs are risen to the top,
And now at length they overflow their banks.
Your griefs! for what? wrong not your prince you love.
Wrong not yourself, then, noble Helicane;
But if the prince do live, let us salute him,
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,
And leave us to our free election.
Whose death indeed’s 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,
That best know how to rule and how to reign,
We thus submit unto,–our sovereign.
Live, noble Helicane!
For honour’s cause, forbear your suffrages:
If that you love Prince Pericles, forbear.
Take I your wish, I leap into the seas,
Where’s hourly trouble for a minute’s ease.
A twelvemonth longer, let me entreat you to
Forbear the absence of your king:
If in which time expired, he not return,
I shall with aged 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,
You shall like diamonds sit about his crown.
To wisdom he’s a fool that will not yield;
And since Lord Helicane enjoineth us,
We with our travels will endeavour us.
Then you love us, we you, and we’ll clasp hands:
When peers thus knit, a kingdom ever stands.
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