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Pericles

Pericles Translation Act 2, Scene 4

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Enter HELICANUS and ESCANES

HELICANUS

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.

HELICANUS

Listen, Escanes: Antiochus was committing incest, and the most high gods couldn't contain their vengeance any longer against this most horrible of crimes. He was at the height of his glory, riding in his expensive chariot with his daughter when lightening struck from heaven, shriveling up their bodies to a disgusting, stinking mess. It was so horrible that no one who formerly adored them would stoop low enough to bury them.

ESCANES

'Twas very strange.

ESCANES

It was very strange.

HELICANUS

And yet but justice; for thoughThis king were great, his greatness was no guardTo bar heaven's shaft, but sin had his reward.

HELICANUS

It was just, though. Even though he was a great king, his greatness couldn't shield him from heaven's wrath. His sin got its reward.

ESCANES

'Tis very true.

ESCANES

It's very true.

Enter two or three Lords

FIRST LORD

See, not a man in private conferenceOr council has respect with him but he.

FIRST LORD

See, no one has private access to Pericles except for Helicanus.

SECOND LORD

It shall no longer grieve without reproof.

SECOND LORD

We can't let this go on any longer without challenging it.

THIRD LORD

And cursed be he that will not second it.

THIRD LORD

Anyone who's not with us is against us.

FIRST LORD

Follow me, then. Lord Helicane, a word.

FIRST LORD

Follow me, then.

[To HELICANUS]
Helicanus, can we have a word?

HELICANUS

With me? and welcome: happy day, my lords.

HELICANUS

With me? Of course. Hello, gentlemen.

FIRST LORD

Know that our griefs are risen to the top,And now at length they overflow their banks.

FIRST LORD

You have to understand that our grievances have piled up to the point of overflowing.

HELICANUS

Your griefs! for what? wrong not your prince you love.

HELICANUS

Your grievances! Why? Don't say anything against the prince you love.

FIRST LORD

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.

FIRST LORD

Then don't say anything against yourself, Helicanus: if the prince is alive, let us see him. Otherwise just tell us where he's buried. If he's alive somewhere in the world, we'll find him; if he's in his grave, we'll find him there. Give us the right to know if he's still our rightful ruler or, if he's dead, let us mourn him with a funeral and then have an open election.

SECOND LORD

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.

SECOND LORD

If he is dead, and we don't have a ruler, then we would hardly want the kingdom to continue this way, like a building without a roof, a country without a king is quickly ruined. With all your experience, we would look to you, and would appoint you to be our next king.

ALL

Live, noble Helicane!

ALL

Long live Helicanus!

HELICANUS

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.

HELICANUS

Please, for honor's sake, no more. If you love Prince Pericles, you'll stop. I'll do as you wish: I'll set sail to find him, as dangerous as it is out there on the seas. Let me ask you to stand the absence of the king for another year. If I can't find the Prince within that time, I'll patiently accept your appointment. If you can't wait, go and look for him; show how loyal you are by your diligent searching. Then, if you find him and bring him back, he will reward you generously.

FIRST LORD

To wisdom he's a fool that will not yield;And since Lord Helicane enjoineth us,We with our travels will endeavour us.

FIRST LORD

We'd be foolish not to give in to your wisdom. Since you told us so, we'll go about our travels like you said.

HELICANUS

Then you love us, we you, and we'll clasp hands:When peers thus knit, a kingdom ever stands.

HELICANUS

We're all friends here; let's shake hands. Our kingdom is strong because we're all united.

Exeunt

Pericles
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Bailey sincox
About the Translator: Bailey Sincox

Bailey Sincox is a PhD student in English at Harvard University, where she researches the theatre of Shakespeare and his contemporaries. Her teaching experience includes accessible online courses with edX on Hamlet and The Merchant of Venice. She holds a Master's from the University of Oxford and a Bachelor's from Duke University.