Gary Taylor, John Jowett, Terri Bourus, and Gabriel Egan (eds), The New Oxford Shakespeare: Modern Critical Edition

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Sc. 51.4

Editor’s NoteEnter Cleon, the Governor of Tarsus, with Dionyza his wife and others

cleon My Dionyza, shall we rest us here,

2And by relating tales of others' griefs,

3See if 'twill teach us to forget our own?


dionyza That were to blow at fire in hope to quench it,

5For who digs hills because they do aspire

6Throws down one mountain to cast up a higher.

7O my distressèd lord, e'en such our griefs are;

Editor’s Note8Here they are but felt and seen with misty eyes,

Editor’s Note9But like to groves, being topped they higher rise.


cleon O, Dionyza,

Editor’s Note11Who wanteth food and will not say he wants it,

12Or can conceal his hunger till he famish?

Editor’s Note13Our tongues our sorrows sound too deep,

14Our woes into the air our eyes to weep,

15Till lungs fetch breath that may proclaim them louder,

Editor’s Note16That, if heaven slumber while their creatures want,

17They may awake their helps to comfort them.

Editor’s Note18I'll then discourse our woes, felt several years,

19And, wanting breath to speak, help me with tears.

pg 2674 Editor’s Note20

dionyza I'll do my best, sir.


cleon This Tarsus, o'er which I have the government,

22A city o'er whom plenty held full hand,

23For riches strewed herself even in her streets;

Link 24Whose towers bore heads so high they kissed the clouds,

25And strangers ne'er beheld but wondered at;

Editor’s Note26Whose men and dames so jetted and adorned

Editor’s Note27Like one another's glass to trim them by;

28Their tables were stored full to glad the sight,

29And not so much to feed on as delight.

30All poverty was scorned, and pride so great

31The name of help grew odious to repeat.

Editor’s Note32

dionyza O, 'tis too true.


cleon But see what heaven can do by this our change.

34Those mouths who but of late earth, sea, and air

35Were all too little to content and please,

36Although they gave their creatures in abundance,

37As houses are defiled for want of use,

38They are now starved for want of exercise.

39Those palates who, not yet two summers younger,

40Must have inventions to delight the taste

41Would now be glad of bread and beg for it.

Editor’s Note42Those mothers who, to nuzzle up their babes,

Editor’s Note43Thought naught too curious are ready now

44To eat those little darlings whom they loved.

45So sharp are hunger's teeth that man and wife

46Draw lots who first shall die to lengthen life.

Editor’s Note47Here stands a lord, and there a lady, weeping;

48Here many sink, yet those which see them fall

49Have scarce strength left to give them burial.

50Is not this true?


dionyza Our cheeks and hollow eyes do witness it.


cleon O, let those cities that of plenty's cup

53And her prosperities so largely taste

Editor’s Note54With their superfluous riots, heed these tears!

55The misery of Tarsus may be theirs.

Editor’s NoteEnter a Lord

lord Where's the Lord Governor?

Link 57

cleon Here, speak out thy sorrows which thou bring'st in haste,

58For comfort is too far for us to expect.


lord We have descried upon our neighbouring shore

Editor’s Note60A portly sail of ships make hitherward.

Editor’s Note61

cleon I thought as much.

62One sorrow never comes but brings an heir

63That may succeed as his inheritor;

64And so in ours. Some neighbour nation,

pg 267565Taking advantage of our misery,

Editor’s Note66Hath stuffed the hollow vessels with their power

67To beat us down, the which are down already,

Editor’s Note68And make a conquest of unhappy men,

69Whereas no glory's got to overcome.

Editor’s Note70

lord That's the least fear for, by the semblance

71Of their white flags displayed, they bring us peace,

72And come to us as favourers, not as foes.

Editor’s Note73

cleon Thou speak'st like him's untutored to repeat.

74Who makes the fairest show means most deceit.

75But bring they what they will and what they can,

76What need we fear?

Editor’s Note77Our grave's the lowest, and we are halfway there.

Editor’s Note78Go tell their general we attend him here

79To know for what he comes, and whence he comes.


lord I go, my lord.


cleon Welcome is peace, if he on peace consist;

82If wars, we are unable to resist.

Editor’s NoteEnter Pericles with attendants

pericles [to Cleon] Lord Governor, for so we hear you are,

84Let not our ships and number of our men

Editor’s Note85Be like a beacon fired t'amaze your eyes.

86We have heard your miseries as far as Tyre,

87And seen the desolation of your streets;

88Nor come we to add sorrow to your hearts,

89But to relieve them of their heavy load;

90And these our ships, you happily may think

Editor’s Note91Are like the Trojan horse was stuffed within

Editor’s Note92With bloody veins expecting overthrow,

93Are stored with corn to make your needy bread,

94And give them life whom hunger starved half-dead.


all of tarsus [kneeling] The gods of Greece protect you, and we'll pray for you!


pericles Arise, I pray you, rise.

97We do not look for reverence, but for love,

98And harborage for ourself, our ships, and men.

Editor’s Note99

cleon The which when any shall not gratify,

100Or pay you with unthankfulness in thought,

101Be it our wives, our children, or ourselves,

102The curse of heaven and men succeed their evils!

103Till when—the which I hope shall ne'er be seen—

104Your grace is welcome to our town and us.


pericles Which welcome we'll accept, feast here awhile,

106Until our stars that frown lend us a smile.


Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
5.0 Cleon … others Tarsus is in a state of famine, and this may be reflected in the appearance of those on stage.
Editor’s Note
5.8 misty tearful
Editor’s Note
5.9 topped pruned
Editor’s Note
5.11 wanteth lacks; needs
Editor’s Note
5.13 sound too deep proclaim loudly
Editor’s Note
5.16 want lack; are in need
Editor’s Note
5.18 several (two syllables)
Editor’s Note
5.20 I'll … sir Some productions emphasize Dionysa's evil nature early on and her response could indicate her disinterest about the suffering of her people. Alternatively, she may speak this compassionately as a way to indicate that she will do anything for the people of Tarsus.
Editor’s Note
5.26 so jetted bejewelled with jet (a black semi-precious stone polished into beads)
Editor’s Note
5.27 glass mirror
Editor’s Note
5.27 trim them by adjust their adornment (having seen the fashionable citizens)
Editor’s Note
5.32 but of late lately
Editor’s Note
5.42 nuzzle nourish, nurse
Editor’s Note
5.43 naught too curious nothing too rare or unusual
Editor’s Note
5.47 Here … weeping Perhaps spoken figuratively or, alternatively, Cleon could gesture towards those who are to perform these actions.
Editor’s Note
5.54 superfluous riots unnecessary celebrations (showing excess of prosperity)
Editor’s Note
5.55.1 a Lord Perhaps visibly famished and fatigued, he may struggle to speak.
Editor’s Note
5.60 portly sail majestic fleet (also carries sense of 'imposing')
Editor’s Note
5.61 I … much perhaps spoken with resignation or fear
Editor’s Note
5.66 power soldiers (possibly foreshadowing the Trojan horse reference at 5.91)
Editor’s Note
5.68 unhappy distressed; unlucky
Editor’s Note
5.70 semblance appearance
Editor’s Note
5.73 like him's untutored to repeat naive; someone not taught to recite common knowledge or wisdom
Editor’s Note
5.77 Our grave's the lowest (i.e. our death is the lowest point we can reach)
Editor’s Note
5.77 lowest (one syllable)
Editor’s Note
5.78 general (two syllables)
Editor’s Note
5.78 attend await
Editor’s Note
5.82.1 Enter … attendants The lord who is commanded to greet Pericles has barely enough time to exit and return; it is possible that he moves to the side of the stage and gestures for Pericles to enter (or speaks silently to him, passing on Cleon's greeting). If the latter, Cleon and the other Tarsians may await Pericles' entrance in fearful silence.
Editor’s Note
5.85 t'amaze to alarm
Editor’s Note
5.91 the Trojan horse was stuffed within (referring to the ruse of the hollow wooden horse 'stuffed' with Greek soldiers)
Editor’s Note
5.92 bloody veins i.e. the blood-thirsty soldiers within the Trojan horse
Editor’s Note
5.99 gratify show gratitude for
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