David Bruce: William Shakespeare’s PERICLES, PRINCE OF TYRE — Act 5, Scenes 2-3 and Epilogue

 — 5.2 —

John Gower said to you, the reader, “Now our sands have almost run through the hourglass. Just a little more, and I will be silent. Please grant me this, my last request, because such kindness must relieve me.

“I want you to readily imagine with what pageantry, what feasts, what shows, and what minstrelsy and pretty sounds of celebration, the regent — Lysimachus — made in Mytilene to greet King Pericles. Lysimachus so thrived that he has been promised that fair Marina will be his wife. But this in no way will happen until King Pericles has made his sacrifice as the goddess Diana told him to do.

“Please make time pass quickly, and winged time fly. Now, winds fill sails, and things happen as our principals desire them to happen.

“So now imagine King Pericles and all his company at Ephesus, looking at the temple of Diana. That he can come here so soon is due to your imagination, for which I thank you.”

 — 5.3 —

At the temple of Diana in Ephesus, Thaisa — a high priestess — stood near the altar. A number of virgins were on each side of her. Also present were Cerimon and some attendants.

Pericles and his attendants entered the temple. Also with him were Lysimachus, Helicanus, Marina, and a lady.

Pericles said, “Hail, Diana! To perform your just command, I here confess myself the King of Tyre. I fled in fright from my country, and I wed at Pentapolis the fair Thaisa. She died at sea, but first she gave birth to a girl named Marina, who, goddess, still wears your silver livery — she is still a virgin. She at Tarsus was raised as a member of Cleon’s family, but when she was fourteen years old, he sought to murder her. A better fortune brought her to Mytilene. My ship anchored by that country’s shore, and her fortunes brought the maiden aboard, where, by her own very clear memory of past events, she made known to me that she is my daughter.”

After hearing his voice, a shocked Thaisa looked at Pericles, although as a priestess, she was not supposed to. She said, “Voice and appearance! You are, you are — oh, royal Pericles!”

She fainted.

“What does the nun mean?” Pericles asked.

Thaisa was wearing a veil, so Pericles did not recognize her.

He said, “She is dying! Help, gentlemen!”

Cerimon quickly went to Thaisa’s side, and immediately knew that she had only fainted and would quickly recover.

He said to Pericles, “Noble sir, if what you have said before Diana’s altar is true, this is your wife.”

“Reverend sir, no,” Pericles replied. “I threw my wife’s body overboard with these very arms.”

“You did that when you were near this coast, I am sure,” Cerimon said.

“That is most certainly true,” Pericles replied.

“Look after the lady,” Cerimon said to some attendants.

He then said, “She has fainted from an excess of joy. Early on a blustery morning, this lady was thrown upon this shore. I opened her coffin, found rich jewels inside, revived her, and placed her here in Diana’s temple.”

“May we see the jewels?” Pericles asked.

The jewels would confirm Thaisa’s identity.

“Great sir, they shall be brought to you at my house, where I invite you — look, Thaisa is recovering.”

“Oh, let me look at him!” Thaisa said, aware that as a priestess of the virgin goddess Diana, normally she would not look at a man. “If he is not my husband, then my position as holy priestess will not allow me to feel any sexual desire for him. If he is not my husband, then my position as holy priestess will curb my sexual desire, no matter what I see.”

She looked at Pericles and said, “Oh, my lord, aren’t you Pericles? You spoke like him; you look like him. Didn’t you mention a tempest, a birth, and a death?”

“It is the voice of dead Thaisa!” Pericles said.

“I am Thaisa, whom you supposed to be dead and drowned.”

“Immortal Diana!” Pericles said.

“Now I know you better,” Thaisa said. “When we with tears departed from Pentapolis, my father the King — Simonides — gave you a ring like this.”

She showed him a ring that she was wearing. Pericles immediately recognized it.

“This … this … no more, you gods!” he said. His happiness filled him; he had no room for more.

He continued, “Gods, your present kindness makes my past miseries mere entertainments. You shall do well, if once I touch her lips I melt and am seen no more. I shall die of happiness.”

He said to Thaisa, “Oh, come, and be buried a second time within these arms.”

They hugged.

Marina said, “My heart leaps to go into my mother’s bosom.”

She knelt.

“Look at who is kneeling here!” Pericles said. “She is flesh of your flesh, Thaisa. You gave birth to her at sea, and she was named Marina because she was born at sea.”

“We are blest — she is my own!” Thaisa said. She raised Marina up from her kneeling position and hugged her.

“Hail, madam, and my Queen!” Helicanus said.

“I don’t know you,” Thaisa said to him. She had never met him.

“You have heard me say that when I fled away from Tyre, I left behind an old man to rule as my substitute,” Pericles said. “Can you remember what I called the man? I have often said his name.”

“Helicanus,” Thaisa said.

“This is still more confirmation that you are my wife,” Pericles said. “Embrace him, dear Thaisa; this is he.”

Thaisa and Helicanus hugged.

Pericles said to Thaisa, “Now I long to hear how you were found, how your life could possibly be preserved; and whom to thank, besides the gods, for this great miracle.”

“You can thank Lord Cerimon, my lord,” Thaisa replied. “Lord Cerimon, through whom the gods have shown their power, is the man who can from first to last answer your questions.”

Pericles said to Cerimon, “Reverend sir, the gods can have no mortal officer more like a god than you. Will you tell me how this once-dead Queen lives again?”

“I will, my lord,” Cerimon said. “But please, first go with me to my house, where you shall be shown everything that was found with her in the coffin. I will tell you how she came to be placed here in the temple. I will omit no important information.”

Pericles prayed, “Pure and chaste Diana, bless you for your vision! I will offer night devotions to you.”

He then said, “Thaisa, this Prince, Lysimachus, the fair-betrothed of your daughter, shall marry her at Pentapolis. And now, this ornament — my shaggy hair and beard — that makes me look unkempt and dismal I will clip so that I have a respectable haircut.”

He said to Marina, “What no razor has touched for fourteen years, I’ll beautify to grace your marriage-day.”

Thaisa said, “Lord Cerimon has credible letters, sir, that say my father, Simonides, is dead.”

“May the Heavens make a star of him and put him in the firmament! Yet there in Pentapolis, his Kingdom, my Queen, we’ll celebrate Lysimachus and Marina’s nuptials, and we ourselves will in that Kingdom spend our following days. Our son-in-law and daughter shall reign in Tyre.”

He then said, “Lord Cerimon, we have been putting off our desire to hear the rest of the story. Sir, lead us to your house.”

— Epilogue —

John Gower said to you, the reader, “You have seen Antiochus and his daughter, who engaged in monstrous and incestuous lust, receive their due and just reward.

“Pericles, his Queen, and his daughter, as you have seen, although they were assailed with fortune fierce and keen, preserved their virtue from deadly destruction’s blast. Heaven led them, and they were crowned with joy at last.

“In Helicanus you have seen a figure of truth, of faith, and of loyalty.

“In reverend Cerimon there well appears the worth that learned charity always wears.

“After news had spread of the cursed deed of wicked Cleon and his wife, who wanted to murder Marina, the citizens — because of the honored name of Pericles, who had delivered grain to them when they were famished — raged throughout the city and burned Cleon and his wife in his palace. The gods seemed content to punish them for the crime of murder, although the murder was not done, but only meant.

“So, to thank you for your patience in reading this, may you find new joy! Here our book has its ending.”


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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