Pericles, Prince of Tyre
PERICLES, prince of Tyre, became a voluntary exile from his dominions, to avert the dreadful calamities which Antiochus, the wicked emperor of Greece, threatened to bring upon his subjects and city of Tyre, in revenge for a discovery which the prince had made of a shocking deed which the emperor had done in secret; as commonly it proves dangerous to pry into the hidden crimes of great ones. Leaving the government of his people in the hands of his able and honest minister, Helicanus, Pericles set sail from Tyre, thinking to absent himself till the wrath of Antiochus, who was mighty, should be appeased.
The first place which the prince directed his course to was Tarsus, and hearing that the city of Tarsus was at that time suffering under a severe famine, he took with him store of provisions for its relief. On his arrival he found the city reduced to the utmost distress; and, he coming like a messenger from heaven with his unhoped-for succour, Cleon, the governor of Tarsus, welcomed him with boundless thanks. Pericles had not been here many days, before letters came from his faithful minister, warning him that it was not safe for him to stay at Tarsus, for Antiochus knew of his abode, and by secret emissaries despatched for that purpose sought his life. Upon receipt of these letters Pericles put out to sea again, amidst the blessings and prayers of a whole people who had been fed by his bounty.
He had not sailed far, when his ship was overtaken by a dreadful storm, and every man on board perished except Pericles, who was cast by the sea-waves naked on an unknown shore, where he had not wandered long before he met with some poor fishermen, who invited him to their homes, giving him clothes and provisions. The fishermen told Pericles the name of their country was Pentapolis, and that their king was Simonides, commonly called the good Simonides, because of his peaceable reign and good government. From them he also learned that king Simonides had a fair young daughter, and that the following day was her birthday, when a grand tournament was to be held at court, many princes and knights being come from all parts to try their skill in arms for the love of Thaisa, this fair princess. While the prince was listening to this account, and secretly lamenting the loss of his good armour, which disabled him from making one among these valiant knights, another fisherman brought in a complete suit of armour that he had taken out of the sea with his fishing-net, which proved to be the very armour he had lost. When Pericles beheld his own armour, he said: “Thanks, Fortune; after all my crosses you give me somewhat to repair myself. This armour was bequeathed to me by my dead father, for whose dear sake I have so loved it that whithersoever I went, I still have kept it by me, and the rough sea that parted it from me, having now become calm, hath given it back again, for which I thank it for, since I have my father’s gift again, I think my shipwreck no misfortune.”
The next day Pericles clad in his brave father’s armour, repaired to the royal court of Simonides, where he performed wonders at the tournament, vanquishing with ease all the brave knights and valiant princes who contended with him in arms for the honour of Thaisa’s love. When brave warriors contended at court tournaments for the love of king’s daughters, if one proved sole victor over all the rest, it was usual for the great lady for whose sake these deeds of valour were undertaken, to bestow all her respect upon the conqueror, and Thaisa did not depart from this custom, for she presently dismissed all the princes and knights whom Pericles had vanquished, and distinguished him by her especial favour and regard, crowning him with the wrath of victory, as king of that day’s happiness; and Pericles became a most passionate lover of this beauteous princess from the first moment he beheld her.
The good Simonides so well approved of the valour and noble qualities of Pericles, who was indeed a most accomplished gentleman, and well learned in all excellent arts, that though he knew not the rank of this royal stranger (for Pericles for fear of Antiochus gave out that he was a private gentleman of Tyre), yet did not Simonides disdain to accept of the valiant unknown for a son-in-law, when he perceived his daughter’s affections were firmly fixed upon him.
Pericles had not been many months married to Thaisa, before he received intelligence that his enemy Antiochus was dead, and that his subjects of Tyre, impatient of his long absence, threatened to revolt, and talked of placing Helicanus upon his vacant throne. This news came from Helicanus himself, who, being a loyal subject to his royal master, would not accept of the high dignity offered him, but sent to let Pericles know their intentions, that he might return home and resume his lawful right. It was matter of great surprise and joy to Simonides, to kind that his son-in-law (the obscure knight) was the renowned prince of Tyre; yet again he regretted that he was not the private gentleman he supposed him to be, seeing that he must now part both with his admired son-in-law and his beloved daughter, whom he feared to trust to the perils of the sea, because Thaisa was with child; and Pericles himself wished her to remain with her father till after her confinement, but the poor lady so earnestly desired to go with her husband, that at last they consented, hoping she would reach Tyre before she was brought to bed.
The sea was no friendly element to unhappy Pericles, for long before they reached Tyre another dreadful tempest arose, which so terrified Thaisa that she was taken ill, and in a short space of time her nurse Lychorida came to Pericles with a little child in her arms, to tell the prince the sad tidings that his wife died the moment her little babe was born. She held the babe towards its father, saying: “Here is a thing too young for such a place. This is the child of your dead queen.” No tongue can tell the dreadful sufferings of Pericles when he heard his wife was dead. As soon as he could speak, he said: “O you gods, why do you make us love your goodly gifts, and then snatch those gifts away?” “Patience, good sir,” said Lychorida, “here is all that is left alive of our dead queen, a little daughter, and for your child’s sake be more manly. Patience, good sir, even for the sake of this precious charge.” Pericles took the new-born infant in his arms, and he said to the little babe: “Now may your life be mild, for a more blusterous birth had never babe! May your condition be mild and gentle, for you have had the rudest welcome that ever prince’s child did meet with! May that which follows be happy, for you have had as chiding a nativity as fire, air, water, earth, and heaven could make to herald you from the womb! Even at the first, your loss,” meaning in the death of her mother, “is more than all the joys, which you shall find upon this earth to which you are come a new visitor, shall be able to recompense.”
The storm still continuing to rage furiously, and the sailors having a superstition that while a dead body remained in the ship the storm would never cease, they came to Pericles to demand that his queen should be thrown overboard; and they said: “What courage, sir? God save you!” “Courage enough,” said the sorrowing prince: “I do not fear the storm; it has done to me its worst; yet for the love of this poor infant, this fresh new seafarer, I wish the storm was over.” “Sir,” said the sailors, “your queen must overboard. The sea works high, the wind is loud, and the storm will not abate till the ship be cleared of the dead.” Though Pericles knew how weak and unfounded this superstition was, yet he patiently submitted, saying: “As you think meet. Then she must overboard, most wretched queen!” And now this unhappy prince went to take a last view of his dear wife, and as he looked on his Thaisa, he said: “A terrible childbed hast thou had, my dear; no light, no fire; the unfriendly elements forget thee utterly, nor have I time to bring thee hallowed to thy grave, but must cast thee scarcely coffined into the sea, where for a monument upon thy bones the humming waters must overwhelm thy corpse, lying with simple shells. O Lychorida, bid Nestor bring me spices, ink, and paper, my casket and my jewels, and bid Nicandor bring me the satin coffin. Lay the babe upon the pillow, and go about this suddenly, Lychorida, while I say a priestly farewell to my Thaisa.”
They brought Pericles a large chest, in which (wrapped in a satin shroud) he placed his queen, and sweet-smelling spices he strewed over her, and beside her he placed rich jewels, and a written paper, telling who she was, and praying if haply any one should find the chest which contained the body of his wife, they would give her burial: and then with his own hands he cast the chest into the sea. When the storm was over, Pericles ordered the sailors to make for Tarsus. “For,” said Pericles, “the babe cannot hold out till we come to Tyre. At Tarsus I will leave it at careful nursing.”
After that tempestuous night when Thaisa was thrown into the sea, and while it was yet early morning, as Cerimon, a worthy gentleman of Ephesus, and a most skilful physician, was standing by the sea-side, his servants brought to him a chest, which they said the sea-waves had thrown on the land. “I never saw,” said one of them, “so huge a billow as cast it on our shore.” Cerimon ordered the chest to be conveyed to his own house and when it was opened he beheld with wonder the body of a young and lovely lady; and the sweet-smelling spices and rich casket of jewels made him conclude it was some great person who was thus strangely entombed: searching farther, he discovered a paper, from which he learned that the corpse which lay as dead before him had been a queen, and wife to Pericles, prince of Tyre; and much admiring at the strangeness of that accident, and more pitying the husband who had lost this sweet lady, he said: “If you are living, Pericles, you have a heart that even cracks with woe.” Then observing attentively Thaisa’s face, he saw how fresh and unlike death her looks were, and he said: “They were too hasty that threw you into the sea”: for he did not believe her to be dead. He ordered a fire to be made, and proper cordials to be brought, and soft music to be played, which might help to calm her amazed spirits if she should revive; and he said to those who crowded round her, wondering at what they saw: “I pray you, gentlemen, give her air; this queen will live; she has not been entranced above five hours; and see, she begins to blow into life again; she is alive; behold, her eyelids move; this fair creature will live to make us weep to hear her fate.” Thaisa had never died, but after the birth of her little baby had fallen into a deep swoon, which made all that saw her conclude her to be dead; and now by the care of this kind gentleman she once more revived to light and life; and opening her eyes, she said: “Where am I? Where is my lord? What world is this?” By gentle degrees Cerimon let her understand what had befallen her; and when he thought she was enough recovered to bear the sight, he showed her the paper written by her husband, and the jewels; and she looked on the paper, and said: “It is my lord’s writing. That I was shipped at sea, I well remember, but whether there delivered of my babe, by the holy gods I cannot rightly say; but since my wedded lord I never shall see again, I will put on a vestal livery, and never more have joy.” “Madam,” said Cerimon, “if you purpose as you speak, the temple of Diana is not far distant from hence; there you may abide as a vestal. Moreover, if you please, a niece of mine shall there attend you.” This proposal was accepted with thanks by Thaisa; and when she was perfectly recovered, Cerimon placed her in the temple of Diana, where she became a vestal or priestess of that goddess, and passed her days in sorrowing for her husband’s supposed loss, and in the most devout exercises of those times.
Pericles carried his young daughter (whom he named Marina, because she was born at sea) to Tarsus, intending to leave her with Cleon, the governor of that city, and his wife Dionysia, thinking, for the good he had done to them at the time of their famine, they would be kind to his little motherless daughter. When Cleon saw prince Pericles, and heard of the great loss which had befallen him, he said: “O your sweet queen, that it had pleased Heaven you could have brought her hither to have blessed my eyes with the sight of her!” Pericles replied: “We must obey the powers above us. Should I rage and roar as the sea does in which my Thaisa lies, yet the end must be as it is. My gentle babe, Marina here, I must charge your charity with her. I leave her the infant of your care, beseeching you to give her princely training.” And then turning to Cleon’s wife, Dionysia, he said: “Good madam, make me blessed in your care in bringing up my child”: and she answered: “I have a child myself who shall not be more dear to my respect than yours, my lord”; and Cleon made the like promise, saying: “Your noble services, prince Pericles, in feeding my whole people with your corn (for which in their prayers they daily remember you) must in your child be thought on. If I should neglect your child, my whole people that were by you relieved would force me to my duty; but if to that I need a spur, the gods revenge it on me and mine to the end of generation.” Pericles being thus assured that his child would be carefully attended to, left her to the protection of Cleon and his wife Dionysia, and with her he left the nurse Lychorida. When he went away, the little Marina knew not her loss, but Lychorida wept sadly at parting with her royal master. “O, no tears, Lychorida,” said Pericles: “no tears; look to your little mistress, on whose grace you may depend hereafter.”
Pericles arrived in safety at Tyre, and was once more settled in the quiet possession of his throne, while his woeful queen, whom he thought dead, remained at Ephesus. Her little babe Marina, whom this hapless mother had never seen, was brought up by Cleon in a manner suitable to her high birth. He gave her the most careful education, so that by the time Marina attained the age of fourteen years, the most deeply-learned men were not more studied in the learning of those times than was Marina. She sang like one immortal, and danced as goddesslike, and with her needle she was so skilful that she seemed to compose nature’s own shapes, in birds, fruits, or flowers, the natural roses being scarcely more like to each other than they were to Marina’s silken flowers. But when she had gained from education all these graces, which made her the general wonder, Dionysia, the wife of Cleon, became her mortal enemy from jealousy, by reason that her own daughter, from the slowness of her mind, was not able to attain to that perfection wherein Marina excelled: and finding that all praise was bestowed on Marina, whilst her daughter, who was of the same age, and had been educated with the same care as Marina, though not with the same success, was in comparison disregarded, she formed a project to remove Marina out of the way, vainly imagining that her untoward daughter would be more respected when Marina was no more seen. To encompass this she employed a man to murder Marina, and she well timed her wicked design, when Lychorida, the faithful nurse, had just died. Dionysia was discoursing with the man she had commanded to commit this murder, when the young Marina was weeping over the dead Lychorida. Leonine, the man she employed to do this bad deed, though he was a very wicked man, could hardly be persuaded to undertake it, so had Marina won all hearts to love her. He said: “She is a goodly creature!” “The tatter then the gods should have her,” replied her merciless enemy: “here she comes weeping for the death of her nurse Lychorida: are you resolved to obey me?” Leonine, fearing to disobey her, replied: “I am resolved.” And so, in that one short sentence, was the matchless Marina doomed to an untimely death. She now approached, with a basket of flowers in her hand, which she said she would daily strew over the grave of good Lychorida. The purple violet and the marigold should as a carpet hang upon her grave, while summer days did last. “Alas, for me!” she said, “poor unhappy maid, born in a tempest, when my mother died. This world to me is like a lasting storm, hurrying me from my friends.” “How now, Marina,” said the dissembling Dionysia, “do you weep alone? How does it chance my daughter is not with you? Do not sorrow for Lychorida, you have a nurse in me. Your beauty is quite changed with this unprofitable woe. Come, give me your flowers, the sea-air will spoil them; and walk with Leonine: the air is fine, and will enliven you. Come, Leonine, take her by the arm, and walk with her.” “No, madam,” said Marina, “I pray you let me not deprive you of your servant”: for Leonine was one of Dionysia’s attendants. “Come, come,” said this artful woman, who wished for a presence to leave her alone with Leonine, “I love the prince, your father, and I love you. We every day expect your father here; and when he comes, and finds you so changed by grief from the paragon of beauty we reported you, he will think we have taken no care of you. Go, I pray you, walk, and be cheerful once again. Be careful of that excellent complexion, which stole the hearts of old and young.” Marina, being thus importuned, said: “Well, I will go, but yet I have no desire to it.” As Dionysia walked away, she said to Leonine: “Remember what I have said!”—shocking words, for their meaning was that he should remember to kill Marina.
Marina looked towards the sea, her birthplace, and said: “Is the wind westerly that blows?” “South-west,” replied Leonine. “When I was born the wind was north,” said she: and then the storm and tempest, and all her father’s sorrows, and her mother’s death, came full into her mind; and she said: “My father, as Lychorida told me, did never fear, but cried, Courage, good seamen, to the sailors, galling his princely hands with the ropes, and, clasping to the masts, he endured a sea that almost split the deck.” “When was this?” said Leonine. “When I was born,” replied Marina: “never were wind and waves more violent”; and then she described the storm, the action of the sailors, the boatswain’s whistle, and the loud call of the master, “which,” said she, “trebled the confusion of the ship.” Lychorida had so often recounted to Marina the story of her hapless birth that these things seemed ever present to her imagination. But here Leonine interrupted her with desiring her to say her prayers. “What mean you?” said Marina, who began to fear, she knew not why. “If you require a little space for prayer, I grant it,” said Leonine; “but be not tedious, the gods are quick of ear, and I am sworn to do my work in haste.” “Will you kill me?” said Marina: “alas! why?” “To satisfy my lady,” replied Leonine. “Why would she have me killed?” said Marina: “now, as I can remember, I never hurt her in all my life. I never spake bad word, nor did any ill turn to any living creature. Believe me now, I never killed a mouse, nor hurt a fly. I trod upon a worm once against my will, but I wept for it. How have I offended?” The murderer replied: “My commission is not to reason on the deed, but to do it.” And he was just going to kill her, when certain pirates happened to land at that very moment, who seeing Marina, bore her off as a prize to their ship.
The pirate who had made Marina his prize carried her to Mitylene, and sold her for a slave, where, though in that humble condition, Marina soon became known throughout the whole city of Mitylene for her beauty and her virtues; and the person to whom she was sold became rich by the money she earned for him. She taught music, dancing, and fine needleworks, and the money she got by her scholars she gave to her master and mistress; and the fame of her learning and her great industry came to the knowledge of Lysimachus, a young nobleman who was governor of Mitylene, and Lysimachus went himself to the house where Marina dwelt, to see this paragon of excellence, whom all the city praised so highly. Her conversation delighted Lysimachus beyond measure, for though he had heard much of this admired maiden, he did not expect to find her so sensible a lady, so virtuous, and so good, as he perceived Marina to be; and he left her, saying, he hoped she would persevere in her industrious and virtuous course, and that if ever she heard from him again it should be for her good. Lysimachus thought Marina such a miracle for sense, fine breeding, and excellent qualities, as well as for beauty and all outward graces, that he wished to marry her, and notwithstanding her humble situation, he hoped to find that her birth was noble; but ever when they asked her parentage she would sit still and weep.
Meantime, at Tarsus, Leonine, fearing the anger of Dionysia, told her he had killed Marina; and that wicked woman gave out that she was dead, and made a pretended funeral for her, and erected a stately monument; and shortly after Pericles, accompanied by his royal minister Helicanus, made a voyage from Tyre to Tarsus, on purpose to see his daughter, intending to take her home with him: and he never having beheld her since he left her an infant in the care of Cleon and his wife, how did this good prince rejoice at the thought of seeing this dear child of his buried queen! but when they told him Marina was dead, and showed the monument they had erected for her, great was the misery this most wretched father endured, and not being able to bear the sight of that country where his last hope and only memory of his dear Thaisa was entombed, he took ship, and hastily departed from Tarsus. From the day he entered the ship a dull and heavy melancholy seized him. He never spoke, and seemed totally insensible to everything around him.
Sailing from Tarsus to Tyre, the ship in its course passed by Mitylene, where Marina dwelt; the governor of which place, Lysimachus, observing this royal vessel from the shore, and desirous of knowing who was on board, went in a barge to the side of the ship, to satisfy his curiosity. Helicanus received him very courteously and told him that the ship came from Tyre, and that they were conducting thither Pericles, their prince; “A man, sir,” said Helicanus, “who has not spoken to any one these three months, nor taken any sustenance, but just to prolong his grief; it would be tedious to repeat the whole ground of his distemper, but the main springs from the loss of a beloved daughter and a wife.” Lysimachus begged to see this afflicted prince, and when he beheld Pericles, he saw he had been once a goodly person, and he said to him: “Sir king, all hail, the gods preserve you, hail, royal sir!” But in vain Lysimachus spoke to him; Pericles made no answer, nor did he appear to perceive any stranger approached. And then Lysimachus bethought him of the peerless maid Marina, that haply with her sweet tongue she might win some answer from the silent prince: and with the consent of Helicanus he sent for Marina, and when she entered the ship in which her own father sat motionless with grief, they welcomed her on board as if they had known she was their princess; and they cried: “She is a gallant lady.” Lysimachus was well pleased to hear their commendations, and he said: “She is such a one, that were I well assured she came of noble birth, I would wish no better choice, and think me rarely blessed in a wife.” And then he addressed her in courtly terms, as if the lowly-seeming maid had been the high-born lady he wished to find her, calling her Fair and beautiful Marina, telling her a great prince on board that ship had fallen into a sad and mournful silence; and, as if Marina had the power of conferring health and felicity, he begged she would undertake to cure the royal stranger of his melancholy. “Sir,” said Marina, “I will use my utmost skill in his recovery, provided none but I and my maid be suffered to come near him.”
She, who at Mitylene had so carefully concealed her birth, ashamed to tell that one of royal ancestry was now a slave, first began to speak to Pericles of the wayward changes in her own fate, telling him from what a high estate herself had fallen. As if she had known it was her royal father she stood before, all the words she spoke were of her own sorrows; but her reason for so doing was, that she knew nothing more wins the attention of the unfortunate than the recital of some sad calamity to match their own. The sound of her sweet voice aroused the drooping prince; he lifted up his eyes, which had been so long fixed and motionless; and Marina, who was the perfect image of her mother, presented to his amazed sight the features of his dead queen. The long-silent prince was once more heard to speak. “My dearest wife,” said the awakened Pericles, “was like this maid, and such a one might my daughter have been. My queen’s square brows, her stature to an inch, as wand-like straight, as silver-voiced, her eyes as jewel-like. Where do you live, young maid? Report your parentage. I think you said you had been tossed from wrong to injury, and that you thought your griefs would equal mine, if both were opened.” “Some such thing I said,” replied Marina, “and said no more than what my thoughts did warrant me as likely.” “Tell me your story,” answered Pericles; “if I find you have known the thousandth part of my endurance, you have borne your sorrows like a man, and I have suffered like a girl; yet you do look like Patience gazing on kings’ graves, and smiling extremity out of act. How lost you your name, my most kind virgin? Recount your story I beseech you. Come, sit by me.” How was Pericles surprised when she said her name was Marina, for he knew it was no usual name, but had been invented by himself for his own child to signify seaborn: “O, I am mocked,” said he, “and you are sent hither by some incensed god to make the world laugh at me.” “Patience, good sir,” said Marina, “or I must cease here.” “Nay,” said Pericles, “I will be patient; you little know how you do startle me, to call yourself Marina.” “The name,” she replied, “was given me by one that had some power, my father, and a king.” “How, a king’s daughter!” said Pericles, “and called Marina! But are you flesh and blood? Are you no fairy? Speak on; where were you born? and wherefore called Marina?” She replied: “I was called Marina, because I was born at sea. My mother was the daughter of a king; she died the minute I was born, as my good nurse Lychorida has often told me weeping. The king, my father, left me at Tarsus, till the cruel wife of Cleon sought to murder me. A crew of pirates came and rescued me, and brought me here to Mitylene. But, good sir, why do you weep? It may be, you think me an impostor. But, indeed, sir, I am the daughter to king Pericles, if good king Pericles be living.” Then Pericles, terrified as he seemed at his own sudden joy, and doubtful if this could be real, loudly called for his attendants, who rejoiced at the sound of their beloved king’s voice; and he said to Helicanus: “O Helicanus, strike me, give me a gash, put me to present pain, lest this great sea of joys rushing upon me, overbear the shores of my mortality. O, come hither, thou that west born at sea, buried at Tarsus, and found at sea again. O Helicanus, down on your knees, thank the holy gods! This is Marina. Now blessings on thee, my child! Give me fresh garments, mine own Helicanus! She is not dead at Tarsus as she should have been by the savage Dionysia. She shall tell you all, when you shall kneel to her and call her your very princess. Who is this?” (observing Lysimachus for the first time). “Sir,” said Helicanus, “it is the governor of Mitylene, who, hearing of your melancholy, came to see you.” “I embrace you, sir,” said Pericles. “Give me my robes! I am wild with beholding—O heaven bless my girl! But hark, what music is that?”—for now, either sent by some kind god, or by his own delighted fancy deceived, he seemed to hear soft music. “My lord, I hear none,” replied Helicanus. “None?” said Pericles; “why it is the music of the spheres.” As there was no music to be heard, Lysimachus concluded that the sudden joy had unsettled the prince’s understanding; and he said: “It is not good to cross him: let him have his way”: and then they told him they heard the music; and he now complaining of a drowsy slumber coming over him, Lysimachus persuaded him to rest on a couch, and placing a pillow under his head, he, quite overpowered with excess of joy, sank into a sound sleep, and Marina watched in silence by the couch of her sleeping parent.
While he slept, Pericles dreamed a dream which made him resolve to go to Ephesus. His dream was, that Diana, the goddess of the Ephesians, appeared to him, and commanded him to go to her temple at Ephesus, and there before her altar to declare the story of his life and misfortunes; and by her silver bow she swore, that if he performed her injunction, he should meet with some rate felicity. When he awoke, being miraculously refreshed, he told his dream, and that his resolution was to obey the bidding of the goddess.
Then Lysimachus invited Pericles to come on shore, and refresh himself with such entertainment as he should find at Mitylene, which courteous offer Pericles accepting, agreed to tarry with him for the space of a day or two. During which time we may well suppose what feastings, what rejoicings, what costly shows and entertainments the governor made in Mitylene, to greet the royal father of his dear Marina, whom in her obscure fortunes he had so respected. Nor did Pericles frown upon Lysimachus’s suit, when he understood how he had honoured his child in the days of her low estate, and that Marina showed herself not averse to his proposals; only he made it a condition, before he gave his consent, that they should visit with him the shrine of the Ephesian Diana: to whose temple they shortly after all three undertook a voyage; and, the goddess herself filling their sails with prosperous winds, after a few weeks they arrived in safety at Ephesus.
There was standing near the altar of the goddess, when Pericles with his train entered the temple, the good Cerimon (now grown very aged) who had restored Thaisa, the wife of Pericles, to life; and Thaisa, now a priestess of the temple, was standing before the altar; and though the many years he had passed in sorrow for her loss had much altered Pericles, Thaisa thought she knew her husband’s features, and when he approached the altar and began to speak, she remembered his voice, and listened to his words with wonder and a joyful amazement. And these were the words that Pericles spoke before the altar: “Hail, Diana! to perform thy just commands, I here confess myself the prince of Tyre, who, frighted from my country, at Pentapolis wedded the fair Thaisa: she died at sea in childbed, but brought forth a maid-child called Marina. She at Tarsus was nursed with Dionysia, who at fourteen years thought to kill her, but her better stars brought her to Mitylene, by whose shores as I sailed, her good fortunes brought this maid on board, where by her most clear remembrance she made herself known to be my daughter.”
Thaisa, unable to bear the transports which his words had raised in her, cried out: “You are, you are, O royal Pericles”—and fainted. “What means this woman?” said Pericles: “she dies! gentlemen, help.”—”Sir,” said Cerimon, “if you have told Diana’s altar true, this is your wife.” “Reverend gentleman, no,” said Pericles: “I threw her overboard with these very arms.” Cerimon then recounted how, early one tempestuous morning, this lady was thrown upon the Ephesian shore; how, opening the coffin, he found therein rich jewels, and a paper; how, happily, he recovered her, and placed her here in Diana’s temple. And now, Thaisa being restored from her swoon said: “O my lord, are you not Pericles? Like him you speak, like him you are. Did you not name a tempest, a birth, and death?” He astonished said: “The voice of dead Thaisa!” “That Thaisa am I,” she replied, “supposed dead and drowned.” “O true Diana!” exclaimed Pericles, in a passion of devout astonishment. “And now,” said Thaisa, “I know you better. Such a ring as I see on your finger did the king my father give you, when we with tears parted from him at Pentapolis.” “Enough, you gods!” cried Pericles, “your present kindness makes my past miseries sport. O come, Thaisa, be buried a second time within these arms.”
And Marina said: “My heart leaps to be gone into my mother’s bosom.” Then did Pericles show his daughter to her mother, saying: “Look who kneels here, flesh of thy flesh, thy burthen at sea, and called Marina, because she was yielded there.” “Blessed and my own!” said Thaisa: and while she hung in rapturous joy over her child, Pericles knelt before the altar, saying: “Pure Diana, bless thee for thy vision. For this, I will offer oblations nightly to thee.” And then and there did Pericles, with the consent of Thaisa, solemnly affiance their daughter, the virtuous Marina, to the well-deserving Lysimachus in marriage.
Thus have we seen in Pericles, his queen, and daughter, a famous example of virtue assailed by calamity (through the sufferance of Heaven, to teach patience and constancy to men), under the same guidance becoming finally successful, and triumphing over chance and change. In Helicanus we have beheld a notable pattern of truth, of faith, and loyalty, who, when he might have succeeded to a shone, chose rather to recall the rightful owner to his possession, than to become great by another’s wrong. In the worthy Cerimon, who restored Thaisa to life, we are instructed how goodness directed by knowledge, in bestowing benefits upon mankind, approaches to the nature of the gods. It only remains to be told, that Dionysia, the wicked wife of Cleon, met with an end proportionable to her deserts; the inhabitants of Tarsus, when her cruel attempt upon Marina was known, rising in a body to revenge the daughter of their benefactor, and setting fire to the palace of Cleon, burnt both him and her, and their whole household: the gods seeming well pleased, that so foul a murder, though but intentional, and never carried into act, should be punished in a way befitting its enormity.
From Tales from Shakespeare
by Charles and Mary Lamb