Tyre. A room in the Governor’s house.
(Helicanus; Escanes; First Lord of Tyre; Second Lord of Tyre; Third Lord of Tyre)
Helicanus explains to Escanes that Antiochus and his daughter are dead, struck by lightning. The lords of Tyre have had no news from Pericles for far too long, and think he must be death; they announce their wish that Helicanus should become King. The loyal Helicanus refuses, or at least asks for a year’s delay to see if Pericles returns, and suggests that they go search for Pericles in the meantime. (59 lines)
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 offense,
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
Those bodies, even to loathing; for they so stunk,
That all those eyes ador’d 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 of Tyre.
See, not a man in private conference
Or council has respect with him but he.
It shall no longer grieve without reproof.
And curs’d 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 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!
Try honor’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 expir’d 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 endeavor.
Then you love us, we you, and we’ll clasp hands:
When peers thus knit, a kingdom ever stands.