43.1
[1.1]

[1.1]

Location: The palace of Antioch.
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Enter Antiochus, Prince Pericles, and followers.

Prince

I.e. ruler, a standard use in the period.
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followers.

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45Antiochus Young Prince of Tyre, you have at large received

Tyre,

An ancient Phoenician port city (now in Lebanon) on the Eastern Mediterranean coast, about 200 miles (340 km) from Antioch.
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at large received

Learned in detail, fully.
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The danger of the task you undertake.
Pericles I have, Antiochus, and with a soul
Emboldened with the glory of her praise
Think death no hazard in this enterprise.
50Antiochus [To attendants] Music!

Music!

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[Music plays.]
Bring in our daughter, clothèd like a bride
For embracements even of Jove himself;

For embracements

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Jove

King of the Roman gods, a notorious rapist of mortals.
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At whose conception, till Lucina reigned,

Lucina

Roman goddess of childbirth, invoked again during the storm at sea in 3.1 (TLN 1122).
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Nature this dowry gave: to glad her presence

her

Either Nature's presence or the Daughter's, in which case the phrase may mean "to make her appearance gladdening" or "to make her life happy", or both.
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The senate-house of planets all did sit
55To knit in her their best perfections.
Enter Antiochus['s] daughter.

daughter.

The Daughter never receives a personal name; she remains forever part of her father.
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Pericles See where she comes, appareled like the Spring!

appareled

Presumably the Daughter is wearing a floral costume. Compare Flora in Botticelli's famous painting of "Primavera".
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Graces her subjects and her thoughts the king

thoughts the king

An awkward expression, probably to be understood as "her thoughts taking the lead in every virtue".
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Of every virtue gives renown to men!
60Her face the book of praises, where is read

book of praises,

Catalogue of all that is worth praise. A description of the face typical of Renaissance love lyric.
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Nothing but curious pleasures, as from thence

curious

"exquisite, excellent" (OED a. 14), perhaps with an unwitting undertone of "peculiar, strange, odd" (OED a. 16).
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Sorrow were ever razed and testy wrath

razed

Erased, scraped out, continuing the book metaphor. Note that this suggests, again perhaps unwittingly, that "sorrow" has been there but has been made invisible by censorship.
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Could never be her mild companion.

mild companion.

Her companion, mild as she is; "testy wrath", of course, can never be mild.
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companion.

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You gods, that made me man, and sway in love,

sway

Rule.
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65That have enflamed desire in my breast
To taste the fruit of yon celestial tree,

fruit of yon celestial tree,

Referring to the Daughter, pictured as a tree promising sexual and dynastic "fruit".
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Or die in the adventure, be my helps,

the adventure,

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As I am son and servant to your will,

son

The play's interest in generational continuity includes Pericles's repeated expressions of interest in finding surrogate fathers in both Antiochus and Simonides.
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To compass such a boundless happiness.

compass

To achieve (OED v. 11). There is the hint of a paradox also from the sense "encircle, embrace" (OED v. 8). One cannot embrace the boundless.
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boundless

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70Antiochus Prince Pericles--
Pericles That would be son to great Antiochus.
Antiochus Before thee stands this fair Hesperides,

thee

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Hesperides,

The daughter is imagined as a tree bearing sexual fruit. In classical myth, three nymphs, the "Hesperides", tended an orchard for Juno. The fruit granted immortality but was guarded by a dragon. The eleventh of twelve labors of Hercules was to steal some of this fruit. In the Renaissance, the orchard itself was often referred to as "the Hesperides".
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With golden fruit, but dangerous to be touched,
For death-like dragons here affright thee hard.
75Her face like heaven enticeth thee to view
Her countless glory, which desert must gain;

countless

Immeasurable. Compare "boundless" in TLN 69.
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And which without desert because thine eye
Presumes to reach, all the whole heap must die.

Presumes

The syntax is typically knotty: "And because thine eye presumes to reach [her countless glory] without desert . . . "
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the whole heap

The whole man, counterpart and victim of the presumptuous "eye".
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[He indicates the suitors' heads.]
Yon sometimes famous princes, like thyself

sometimes

Once, formerly.
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80Drawn by report, adventurous by desire,
Tell thee with speechless tongues and semblance pale

speechless tongues

Referring to the fact that the princes' tongues are dead.
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That, without covering save yon field of stars,

yon field of stars,

Whether this phrase means to indicate that this is a night scene is not clear. It strongly suggests an outdoor setting.
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Here they stand martyrs, slain in Cupid's wars,
And with dead cheeks advise thee to desist
85From going on death's net, whom none resist.

From

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going on death's net,

Death is imagined as a net spread to catch the Daughter's suitors.
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Pericles Antiochus I thank thee, who hath taught
My frail mortality to know itself,

know itself,

I.e. to know that he is mortal.
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And by those fearful objects to prepare
This body, like to them, to what I must.
90For death remembered should be like a mirror,

mirror,

I.e. which shows us our "frail mortality" and helps it to "know itself" (TLN 87).
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Who tells us life's but breath, to trust it, error.

life's but breath,

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I'll make my will then, and, as sick men do

will

Not a literal but a rhetorical making of his testament, since, like "sick men" on their death beds, Pericles is facing death.
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Who know the world, see heaven, but, feeling woe,
Gripe not at earthly joys as erst they did,

Gripe

Clutch, hold fast to.
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erst

At one time, previously.
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95So I bequeath a happy peace to you
And all good men, as every prince should do,
My riches to the earth from whence they came,
[To Daughter]But my unspotted fire of love to you.

unspotted

Pure, immaculate.
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Thus ready for the way of life or death,
100I wait the sharpest blow, Antiochus.

Antiochus.

Pericles ends his speech, as he had begun, with the king's personal name, which may suggest his desire for a direct relationship with him. After he solves the riddle he does not use the name again in the scene.
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[Antiochus gives Pericles the riddle.]
[Antiochus] Scorning advice, read the conclusion then;

conclusion

The result of "scorning advice", but also, since Antiochus expects Pericles to fail, the end of his life.
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Which read and not expounded, 'tis decreed,
[Indicating heads] As these before thee, thou thyself shalt bleed!

before thee,

Both "prior to thee" in time and "in front of thee" in space.
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Daughter Of all 'ssay'd yet, mayst thou prove prosperous!

'ssay'd

Essayed, meaning either "who have tried to solve the riddle" or "who have been tested by the riddle".
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thou

The Daughter follows her father's lead in calling Pericles "thou". He does not reciprocate.
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105Of all 'ssay'd yet, I wish thee happiness.
Pericles Like a bold champion I assume the lists,

assume the lists,

Enter the place of trial.
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Nor ask advice of any other thought
But faithfulness and courage.
[He reads the riddle.]

reads

He may read it out to all on stage, or to himself as an aside shared with the audience. In Wilkins, he reads it aloud, but then the actor would have done so on stage as well.
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110
I am no viper, yet I feed

I am

As Pericles divines, the riddle is to be understood as being "spoken" by the Daughter.
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viper,

A mythical serpent, the viper, was depicted in medieval bestiaries eating its way out of its mother's womb, killing her in the process. It is this monstrous beast, not the more familiar snake, which is imagined here.
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On mother's flesh which did me breed.
I sought a husband, in which labor
I found that kindness in a father.
He's father, son, and husband mild;
115I, mother, wife, and yet his child.
How they may be, and yet in two,

they

I.e. all six family roles in only two people.
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As you will live, resolve it you.
[Aside] Sharp physic is the last! But, O you powers

physic

Medicine, specifically a purgative drug (OED n. 1). Pericles may mean that he is now "cured" of his hope to marry the Daughter, since the riddle discloses the horror of her situation.
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the last!

The last line of the riddle, reiterating the penalty.
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That gives heaven countless eyes to view men's acts! --

gives

I.e. give, an allowable, if unusual, form of a plural verb in early modern English.
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countless eyes

Presumably another reference to "yon field of stars" (TLN 82).
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120Why cloud they not their sights perpetually

cloud they not their sights

An ambiguous phrase. "They" could be the "powers" or heaven's "eyes" or even "men"; "their" could be the "eyes" or the sights of "men".
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If this be true which makes me pale to read it?

He approaches

It is not clear whether these lines are addressed to be heard by the Daughter, or merely referring to her. The long delay before Antiochus intervenes at TLN 133 may suggest the latter, but stagings may vary.
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[He approaches Daughter.]
Fair glass of light, I loved you, and could still

Fair glass of light,

The glass could be either a mirror or a glass container. Given the images of containment and concealment that follow, the latter may be meant: the Daughter seems to be a vessel of light, that is of virtuous beauty. On the other hand, a "mirror" has been cited earlier.
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Were not this glorious casket stored with ill.

glorious casket stored with ill.

The emphasis in this speech on corrupting contact with the Daughter's body, especially with its hidden interiors, strongly sexualizes Pericles's disgust.
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But I must tell you: now my thoughts revolt.
125For he's no man on whom perfections wait

on whom perfections wait

Who is committed to virtue. The image is of a man accompanied by a retinue of virtues, which "wait on" him.
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That, knowing sin within, will touch the gate.

the gate.

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You are a fair viol, and your sense the strings,

fair viol,

A multiple pun, which modern spelling has to reduce. The contradiction "fair vile" is clear, and, after the containers of the previous lines, "fair vial" also. Not until "strings" at the end of the line is the sense of the musical instrument, "viol" (related to the modern violin), confirmed.
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Who, fingered to make man his lawful music,

Who, fingered to make man his lawful music,

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Would draw heaven down and all the gods to harken;
130But being played upon before your time,

before your time,

The Daughter's sexual transgression is regarded as untimely, rather than as with a forbidden partner. Presumably the right "time" would be after marriage. See also TLN 175.
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Hell only danceth at so harsh a chime.
Good sooth, I care not for you!

Good sooth,

Truly.
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gestures

Pericles must do something towards the Daughter – perhaps a gesture of rejection -- to elicit Antiochus's strong reaction.
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[He gestures in rejection of Daughter.]
Antiochus Prince Pericles, touch not, upon thy life!
For that's an article within our law
135As dangerous as the rest. Your time's expired:

Your

Antiochus here reverts to the more formal "you" pronoun. Pericles follows suit at TLN 139.
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Either expound now, or receive your sentence.

sentence.

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Pericles Great king,
Few love to hear the sins they love to act.
'Twould braid yourself too near for me to tell it.

braid

Upbraid, rebuke.
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140Who has a book of all that monarchs do,

a book

The earlier image of the book reappears, this time unopened rather than censored.
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He's more secure to keep it shut than shown.
For vice repeated is like the wandering wind

repeated

Either "committed repeatedly" or "told to others".
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Blows dust in others' eyes to spread itself;

dust in others' eyes

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And yet the end of all is bought thus dear:
145The breath is gone, and the sore eyes see clear
To stop the air would hurt them. The blind mole casts

blind mole

The mole is an image of the futility and danger of protest against the powerful.
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casts

Raises, throws up.
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Copped hills towards heaven to tell the earth is thronged

Copped

Piled up, peaked.
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thronged

Filled, crowded, i.e. man's oppression is everywhere.
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By man's oppression, and the poor worm doth die for't.

worm

I.e. the mole. "Worm" is often used simply for "creeping thing" in the period (OED n. 2), and especially for pests (cf. the modern "vermin").
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Kings are earth's gods; in vice, their law's their will;

Kings are earth's gods; . . . their will;

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150And if Jove stray, who dares say Jove doth ill?

Jove

Recalling TLN 51.
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It is enough you know, and it is fit,
What being more known grows worse, to smother it.

What being more known grows worse, to smother it.

To smother what would grow worse if it were more widely known.
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All love the womb that their first being bred,
Then give my tongue like leave to love my head.

like leave

Similar permission. Pericles's tongue in his head will, by remaining prudently silent, keep his head from being cut off. Antiochus immediately thinks of doing just that.
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155Antiochus [Aside] Heaven, that I had thy head! He has found the meaning!
But I will gloze with him.[To Pericles] Young Prince of Tyre,

gloze

Talk smoothly, use flattering words (OED v. 3).
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Though by the tenor of our strict edict,

tenor

Strict wording, the "letter of the law" (a legal term, OED n. 1a).
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Your exposition misinterpreting,

Your exposition misinterpreting,

Since your solution of the riddle is wrong.
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We might proceed to cancel of your days,

We

Note the "royal plural", here and throughout this speech, emphasizing Antiochus's formal power and status.
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cancel of

Cancellation, termination.
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160Yet hope, succeeding from so fair a tree

succeeding from so fair a tree

Deriving from so fair a source. Part of Antiochus's "glozing".
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As your fair self, doth tune us otherwise.

tune

Affect, arrange. The image is from tuning a musical instrument.
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Forty days longer we do respite you,

we do respite you,

We give you as additional time.
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If by which time our secret be undone,
This mercy shows we'll joy in such a son;

This mercy

I.e. the additional time.
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165And until then your entertain shall be

your entertain

The hospitality we will show you.
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As doth befit our honor and your worth.
[Exeunt Antiochus and followers. Pericles remains alone.]
Pericles How courtesy would seem to cover sin,

seem

Both "appear"and "dissemble".
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When what is done is like an hypocrite,
170The which is good in nothing but in sight!

sight!

Appearance.
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If it be true that I interpret false,

false,

Falsely.
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Then were it certain you were not so bad
As with foul incest to abuse your soul,

soul,

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Where now you're both a father and a son

Where

I.e. in the state of incest. Pericles proceeds to unpack the riddle for us, in case we have not understood.
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175By your untimely claspings with your child --

untimely

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Which pleasures fits a husband, not a father --
And she an eater of her mother's flesh
By the defiling of her parents' bed,

parents'

Singular or plural in the original text.
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And both like serpents are, who though they feed
180On sweetest flowers, yet they poison breed.
Antioch farewell! For wisdom sees those men

wisdom sees those men

A wise person understands that those men who.
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Blush not in actions blacker than the night
Will 'shew no course to keep them from the light.

'shew

Shun, refuse. A shortened form of "eschew" (OED v. 1c).
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them

Both the "actions" and "those men" who perpetrate them.
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One sin, I know, another doth provoke:

One sin, I know, another doth provoke:

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185Murder's as near to lust as flame to smoke;

flame to smoke;

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Poison and treason are the hands of sin,

hands of sin,

The means sin uses to assist and maintain itself.
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Ay, and the targets to put off the shame.

Ay,

Yes, indeed -- an intensifier.
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targets to put off

Shields to deflect.
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Then lest my life be cropped to keep you clear,

cropped

Cut short.
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you

Addressed to the absent Antiochus.
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By flight I'll shun the danger which I fear.
Exit.