Pericles Translation Act 4, Chorus
Imagine Pericles arrived at Tyre, Welcomed and settled to his own desire. His woeful queen we leave at Ephesus, Unto Diana there a votaress. Now to Marina bend your mind, Whom our fast-growing scene must find At Tarsus, and by Cleon train'd In music, letters; who hath gain'd Of education all the grace, Which makes her both the heart and place Of general wonder. But, alack, That monster envy, oft the wrack Of earned praise, Marina's life Seeks to take off by treason's knife. And in this kind hath our Cleon One daughter, and a wench full grown, Even ripe for marriage-rite; this maid Hight Philoten: and it is said For certain in our story, she Would ever with Marina be: Be't when she weaved the sleided silk With fingers long, small, white as milk; Or when she would with sharp needle wound The cambric, which she made more sound By hurting it; or when to the lute She sung, and made the night-bird mute, That still records with moan; or when She would with rich and constant pen Vail to her mistress Dian; still This Philoten contends in skill With absolute Marina: so With the dove of Paphos might the crow Vie feathers white. Marina gets All praises, which are paid as debts, And not as given. This so darks In Philoten all graceful marks, That Cleon's wife, with envy rare, A present murderer does prepare For good Marina, that her daughter Might stand peerless by this slaughter. The sooner her vile thoughts to stead, Lychorida, our nurse, is dead: And cursed Dionyza hath The pregnant instrument of wrath Prest for this blow. The unborn event I do commend to your content: Only I carry winged time Post on the lame feet of my rhyme; Which never could I so convey, Unless your thoughts went on my way. Dionyza does appear, With Leonine, a murderer.
Imagine Pericles gets back to Tyre, where he's welcomed back and settles down quickly. We'll leave his poor queen here at Ephesus, where she becomes a priestess of Diana. Now back to Marina, whom our quickly-moving scene will find in Tarsus. Cleon educates her in music and literature until she's the most accomplished girl around, and is admired by everyone. Unfortunately, as often happens to those who deserve praise, a jealous person threatens to take Marina's life. Cleon has a grown daughter, Philoten, who's the right age for getting married. According to our story, she and Marina were always together. Whenever Marina wove silk with long, thin, white fingers, or drew her sharp needle through the fabric, making it stronger with each stitch, or sang like a bird while playing the lute (which people still talk about), or when she would write prayerful letters to her goddess, Diana, Philoten couldn't compete with the supreme Marina. A crow could just as well compete with a dove for whiteness. Marina got all the praises; everyone felt less like they were giving compliments, and more like they owed them to her! This hurt Philoten's reputation so much that Cleon's wife, Dionyza, hires a murderer to get Marina out of the way so that Philoten could shine. As soon as she thinks up this vile plan, Lychorida, the nurse, dies. Wicked Dionyza has the murderer all prepped now for his job. I leave what's about to happen up to you. Time with its winged feet flies away while I make my rhyming speeches (which are stuck firmly on the ground). I could never make you understand unless your own imagination helps. That's where I bring you now: to Dionyza meeting with a murderer named Leonine.
LitCharts A+ members also get exclusive access to:
- Downloadable translations of every Shakespeare play and sonnet
- Downloads of 1179 LitCharts Lit Guides
- Explanations and citation info for 26,005 quotes covering 1179 books
- Teacher Editions for every Lit Guide
- PDFs defining 136 key Lit Terms