Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: George Wilkins
Editors: Tom Bishop, Andrew Forsberg
Not Peer Reviewed

Wilkins: The Adventures of Pericles (Modern)


The Third Chapter.

How Pericles arriving at Tharsus relieved the city, almost 365famished for want of food, and how Helicanus sent him word of what had happened at Tyre, with his departure from Tharsus.

Prince Pericles by the advice of his good counselor Helicanus having left Tyre and intended his whole course for Tharsus, of which city Lord Cleon was governor, who at this instance with Dionyza, his wife, were 370relating the present miseries wherein themselves and their city Tharsus consisted, the ground of which forced lamentation was to see the power of change: that this their city, who not two summers' younger did so excel in pomp and bore a state whom all her neighbors envied for her greatness, to whom strangers resorted as to the school of variety where they might best 375enrich their understandings with experience, whose houses were like so many courts for kings rather than sleeping-places for subjects, whose people were curious in their diet, rich in attire, envious in looks, where was plenty in abundance, pride in fulness, nothing in scarceness but charity and love, the dignity of whose palates the whole riches of Nature could hardly 380satisfy, the ornaments of whose attire art itself with all invention could not content, are now so altered that, instead of downy beds, they make their pillows on boards, instead of full furnished tables, hunger calls now out for so much bread as may but satisfy life. Sack-cloth is now their wearing instead of silk, tears instead of enticing glances are now the acquaintance 385of their eyes; in brief, riot hath here lost all her dominion, and now is no excess but what's in sorrow. Here stands one weeping, and there lies another dying. So sharp are hunger's teeth and so ravenous the devouring mouth of famine that all pity is exiled between the husband and the wife, nay all tenderness between the mother and the children. Faintness hath now got that 390empery over strength, there is none so whole to relieve the sick; neither have the living sufficiency to give burial to the dead.

Thus, while this Cleon, Lord Governor of Tharsus, and Dionyza, his lady, with interchanging words were describing the sorrows which their almost unpeopled city felt, who from the height of multiplication were substracted almost to nothing -- 395for what is life if it want sustenance? --, a fainting messenger came slowly in to them. His fearful looks described that he brought sorrow, and in slow words he delivered this: that upon their coasts there was discovered a fleet of ships making thitherward.

Which Cleon supposing to be an army which some neighbor nation (taking advantage of their present mishap) had 400sent for their utter overthrow, he commanded the bringer, upon their landing, to this purpose to salute their general: that Tharsus was subdued before their coming; and that it was small conquest to subdue where there was no ability to resist; that they desired but this -- that their city might still stand; and that for the riches which their prosperity had purchased, they 405freely resigned to them, they, though their enemies, for humanity's sake in the place of breeding would afford them burial.

Pericles by this is landed, and no sooner entered into their unshut gates but his princely eyes were partaking witnesses of their widowed desolation. The messenger by this also hath delivered the pleasure of the governor, which the prince 410weeping to attend, who rather came to relieve than to ransack, he demanded of the fellow where the governor was, and forthwith to be conducted to him. Which being effected, in the marketplace they met, where Pericles without further hindrance delivered to him that his thoughts were deceived to suppose them for enemies, who were now come to them for comfortable friends, 415and those his ships, which their fears might cause them to think were fraughted with their destruction, were entreasured with corn for their relief. At which the feeble souls, not having strength enough to give a shout for joy, gazing on him and heaven, fell on their knees and wept.

But Pericles going to the place of judgement, causing all the living to be 420assembled thither, thus freely delivered to them: "You citizens of Tharsus, whom penury of victual pincheth at this present, know you that I, Pericles, Prince of Tyre, am come purposely to relieve you, in respect of which benefit I doubt not but you will be thus thankful as to conceal my arriving here, and for a while to give me safe harborage and hospitality 425for my ships and men, since by the tyranny of Antiochus, though not driven, yet for a while I am desirous to leave mine own country and continue my residence here with you. In recompense of which love, I have brought with me a hundred thousand bushels of wheat, which equally for your relief shall be distributed amongst you, each man paying for every bushel eight 430pieces of brass, the price bestowed thereon in my own country."

At which, as if the very name of bread only had power to renew strength in them, they gave a great shout, offering their city to him as his own and their repaired strength in his defence. With which corn their necessities being supplied, and every man willingly paying his eight pieces of brass as he 435had appointed, Pericles demanded for the governor and the chief men of the government, disdaining to be a merchant to sell corn, but out of his princely magnificence bestowed the whole revenue thereof to the beautifying of their city. Which when the citizens understood, to gratify these large benefits and to acknowledge him their patron and 440reliever sent them by the gods, they erected in the marketplace a monument in the memorial of him, and made his statue of brass, standing in a chariot, holding corn in his right hand and spurning it with his left foot. And on the bases of the pillar whereon it stood was engraven in great letters this inscription: "Pericles, Prince of Tyre, gave a gift unto the 445city of Tharsus, whereby he delivered it from cruel death." So a while we desire the reader to leave Pericles heartening up the decayed citizens of Tharsus, and turn their eyes to good Helicanus at Tyre.

Good Helicanus, as provident at home as his prince was prosperous abroad, let no occasion slip wherein he might send word to Tharsus of what 450occurrents soever had happened in his absence, the chief of which was that Thaliart by Antiochus was sent with purpose to murder him, and that Antiochus, though failing in his practice by his absence, seemed not yet to desist from like intents, but that he again suborned such like instruments to the like treason, advising him for his more 455certain safety for a while to leave Tharsus, as a refuge too near the reach of the tyrant. To which Pericles consenting, he takes his leave of his host, Cleon and Dionyza, and the citizens as sorry to leave him as sorrow can be for the lack of comfort.