Act I
Act II
Act IV
Act V

Enter Cleon, the Governor of Tarsus, with Dionyza,

his wife, and others


My Dionyza, shall we rest us here

And, by relating tales of others' griefs,

See if 'twill teach us to forget our own?


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

For who digs hills because they do aspire
aspire (v.) 2 rise up, tower, be tall
dig (v.) 1 dig down, lessen by digging, excavate

Throws down one mountain to cast up a higher.

O my distressed lord, even such our griefs are.

Here they are but felt, and seen with mischief's eyes,
mischief (n.) 1 catastrophe, calamity, misfortune

But like to groves, being topped, they higher rise.
top (v.) 2 prune, lop, cut back


O Dionyza,

Who wanteth food and will not say he wants it,
want (v.) 1 lack, need, be without See Topics: Frequency count
want (v.) 4 require, demand, need

Or can conceal his hunger till he famish?

Our tongues and sorrows force us to sound deep

Our woes into the air, our eyes to weep,

Till tongues fetch breath that may proclaim them louder,

That, if heaven slumber while their creatures want,
want (v.) 1 lack, need, be without See Topics: Frequency count

They may awake their helpers to comfort them.

I'll then discourse our woes, felt several years,
discourse (v.) 2 relate, talk about, recount

And wanting breath to speak, help me with tears.
want (v.) 1 lack, need, be without See Topics: Frequency count


I'll do my best, sir.


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

A city on whom plenty held full hand,
full (adj.) 3 unrestrained, unlimited, copious

For riches strewed herself even in her streets,

Whose towers bore heads so high they kissed the clouds,

And strangers ne'er beheld but wondered at,

Whose men and dames so jetted and adorned,
jet (v.) strut, swagger, parade

Like one another's glass to trim them by;
glass (n.) 1 mirror, looking-glass See Topics: Frequency count
trim (v.) 1 dress, attire, make [oneself] ready

Their tables were stored full, to glad the sight,
glad (v.) 1 gladden, brighten, cause to rejoice

And not so much to feed on as delight;

All poverty was scorned, and pride so great,

The name of help grew odious to repeat.
repeat (v.) mention, speak of, utter


O, 'tis too true!


But see what heaven can do by this our change.

These mouths who but of late earth, sea, and air

Were all too little to content and please,

Although they gave their creatures in abundance,

As houses are defiled for want of use,
defile (v.) make filthy, pollute, dirty

They are now starved for want of exercise.
exercise (n.) 1 habitual activity, usual occupation, employment
starve (v.) 5 destroy, wither, waste away

Those palates who, not yet two summers younger,

Must have inventions to delight the taste
invention (n.) 3 novelty, fresh creation, innovation

Would now be glad of bread and beg for it.

Those mothers who to nuzzle up their babes
nuzzle up (v.) rear, bring up, nurture

Thought naught too curious are ready now
curious (adj.) 1 finely made, skilfully wrought, elaborate

To eat those little darlings whom they loved.

So sharp are hunger's teeth that man and wife

Draw lots who first shall die to lengthen life.

Here stands a lord and there a lady weeping;

Here many sink, yet those which see them fall

Have scarce strength left to give them burial.

Is not this true?


Our cheeks and hollow eyes do witness it.


O, let those cities that of plenty's cup

And her prosperities so largely taste

With their superfluous riots, hear these tears!
riot (n.) 1 dissipation, wasteful revelry, extravagance
superfluous (adj.) 1 extravagant, wasteful, immoderate

The misery of Tarsus may be theirs.

Enter a Lord


Where's the lord governor?



Speak out thy sorrows which thou bringest in haste,

For comfort is too far for us to expect.


We have descried, upon our neighbouring shore,
descry (v.) 1 catch sight of, make out, espy, discover

A portly sail of ships make hitherward.
portly (adj.) stately, majestic, dignified
sail (n.) 2 fleet, squadron, flotilla


I thought as much.

One sorrow never comes but brings an heir

That may succeed as his inheritor,

And so in ours. Some neighbouring nation,

Taking advantage of our misery,

Hath stuffed the hollow vessels with their power,
power (n.) 4 force, strength, might

To beat us down, the which are down already,

And make a conquest of unhappy me,

Whereas no glory's got to overcome.


That's the least fear, for by the semblance
semblance (n.) 1 appearance, outward show

Of their white flags displayed they bring us peace,

And come to us as favourers, not as foes.


Thou speakest like him's untutored to repeat:

Who makes the fairest show means most deceit.

But bring they what they will and what they can,

What need we fear?

The ground's the lowest and we are half-way there.

Go tell their general we attend him here,
attend (v.) 1 await, wait for, expect See Topics: Frequency count

To know for what he comes and whence he comes

And what he craves.
crave (v.) 2 need, demand, require


I go, my lord.



Welcome is peace if he on peace consist;
consist (v.) be disposed [for], be set, insist

If wars, we are unable to resist.

Enter Pericles with attendants


Lord governor, for so we hear you are,

Let not our ships and number of our men

Be like a beacon fired t' amaze your eyes.
amaze (v.) 2 alarm, dismay, scare

We have heard your miseries as far as Tyre

And seen the desolation of your streets;

Nor come we to add sorrow to your tears,

But to relieve them of their heavy load;
heavy (adj.) 3 pressing, weighty, overpowering

And these our ships you happily may think
happily (adv.) 1 perhaps, by chance, maybe

Are like the Trojan horse, was stuffed within

With bloody veins expecting overthrow,

Are stored with corn to make your needy bread,
needy (adj.) 2 needed, necessary

And give them life whom hunger starved half dead.


The gods of Greece protect you!

And we'll pray for you.

They kneel


                         Arise, I pray you, rise.

We do not look for reverence but for love,

And harbourage for ourself, our ships, and men.
harbourage (n.) shelter, refuge, haven


The which when any shall not gratify,
gratify (v.) 1 reward, repay, show gratitude for

Or pay you with unthankfulness in thought,

Be it our wives, our children, or ourselves,

The curse of heaven and men succeed their evils!
succeed (v.) 1 follow on, ensue, come after

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

Your grace is welcome to our town and us.


Which welcome we'll accept, feast here awhile,

Until our stars that frown lend us a smile.


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