Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: Laurence Twine
Editors: Tom Bishop, Andrew Forsberg
Not Peer Reviewed

Twine: The Pattern of Painful Adventures (Modern)


39The Second Chapter

40How Apollonius arriving at Antiochia resolved the king's question, and how Taliarchus was sent to slay him.

41WHILST Antiochus thus continued in exercising tyranny at Antiochia, a certain young gentleman of Tyrus, prince of the country, abounding in wealth and very well learned, called Apollonius, arrived in the coast, and coming unto the city of Antiochia was brought into the king's presence. And when he had saluted him, the king demanded of him the cause of his coming thither. Then said the young prince, "Sir, I require to have your daughter in marriage." The king, hearing that which he was unwilling to hear, looking fiercely upon him, said unto him: "Dost thou know the conditions of the marriage." "Yea, sir king," said Apollonius, "and I see it standing upon the gate." Then the king, being sharply moved and disdaining at him, said, "Hear then the question which thou must resolve, or else die: I am carried with mischief; I eat my mother's flesh; I seek my brother, my mother's husband, and I cannot find him." Apollonius, having received the question, withdrew himself a while out of the king's presence, and being desirous to understand what it meant, he found out the solution thereof in short space through the help of God, and returned again to the king, saying, "Your Grace proposed a question unto me; I pray you hear the solution thereof. And whereas you said in your problem, I am carried with mischief, you have not lied, for look unto your own self. But whereas you say further, I eat my mother's flesh, looked upon your daughter."

42Now the king, as soon as he perceived that Apollonius had resolved his problems, fearing lest his wickedness should be discovered, he looked upon him with a wrathful countenance, saying, "Thou art far wide from the solution of my demand and hast hit no part of the meaning thereof; wherefore thou hast deserved to be beheaded. Howbeit I will show thee this courtesy as to give thee thirty days respite to bethink thyself of this matter. Wherefore return home into thine own country, and if thou canst find out the solution of my problem, thou shalt have my daughter to wife. If not, thou shalt be beheaded." Then Apollonius, being much troubled and molested in mind, accompanying himself with a sufficient train, took shipping, and returned into his own country.

43But, so soon as he was departed, Antiochus called unto him his steward, named Taliarchus, to whom he spake in manner following: "Taliarchus, the only faithful and trusty minister of my secrets: understand that Apollonius, Prince of Tyrus, hath found out the solution of my question. Wherefore, take shipping and follow him immediately, and if thou canst not overtake him upon the sea, seek him out when thou comest to Tyrus and slay him either with sword or poison; and when thou returnest I will bountifully reward thee." Taliarchus promised to accomplish his commandment with all diligence, and, taking to him his shield with money sufficient for the journey, departed on his way and shortly after arrived at the coast of Tyrus. But Apollonius was come home unto his own Palace long time before, and, withdrawing himself into his study, perused all his books concerning the king's problem, finding none other solution than that which he had already told the king. And thus he said within himself: "Surely, unless I be much deceived, Antiochus burneth with disordinate love of his daughter." And discoursing further with himself upon that point: "What sayest thou now, or what intendest thou to do?" Apollonius said he to himself: "Thou hast resolved his problem, and yet not received his daughter, and God hath therefore brought thee away that thou shouldst not die." Then brake he off in the midst of these cogitations, and immediately commanded his ships to be prepared, and to be laden with an hundred thousand bushels of wheat, and with great plenty of gold, silver and rich apparel. And taking unto him a few of his most trustiest servants, about midnight embarked himself, and, hoisting up his sails, committed himself to the wide sea.

44The day following, his subjects the citizens came unto the palace to have seen their prince, but when they found him not there, the whole city was forthwith surprised with wonderful sorrow, every man lamenting that so worthy a prince [was] so suddenly gone out of sight and knowledge, no man knew whither. Great was the grief, and woeful was the wailing which they made, lamenting his own private estate and the commonwealth's in general, as it always happeneth at the death or loss of a good Prince, which the inhabitants of Tyrus took then so heavily, in respect of their great affection, that a long time after no barbers' shops were opened, the common shows and plays surceased, baths and hot-houses were shut up, taverns were not frequented, and no man repaired unto the churches. All thing was full of sorrow and heaviness. What shall I say? There was nothing but heaviness.