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Antiochus, king of Antioch.
two lords of Tyre.
The daughter of Antiochus.
Lords, knights, sailors, pirates, fishermen, and messengers.
SCENE dispersedly in various countries.
Pentapolis.] This is an imaginary city, and its name might have been borrowed from some romance. We meet indeed in history with Pentapolitana regio, a country in Africa, confisting of five cities; and from thence perhaps some novelist furnished the founding title of Pentapolis, which occurs likewise in the 37th chapter of Kyng Appolyn of Tyre, 1510, as well as in Gower.
That the reader may know through how many regions the scene of this drama is dispersed, it is necessary to observe that Antioch was the metropolis of Syria ; Tyre a city of Phoenicia in Afia; Tarsus the metropolis of Cilicia, a country of Asia Minor; Mitylene the capital of Lesbos, an island in the Ægean Sea; and Ephesus, the capital of Ionia, a country of the Lesler Afia.
T Y RE'.
А с т І.
Before the Palace of Antioch.
To fing a song that old was sung“,
' The story on which this play is formed, is of great antiquity. It is found in a book, once very popular, entitled Gesta Romanorum, which is supposed by the learned editor of the Canterbury Tales of Chaucer, 1775, to have been written five hundred years ago. The earliest impression of that work (which I have seen) was printed in 1488; in that edition the history of Apollonius King of Tyre makes the 153d chapter. It is likewise related by Gower in his Confeffio Amantis, lib. viii. p. 175—185, edit. 1554. The rev. Dr. Farmer has in his possession a fragment of poem on the fame subject, which appears, from the hand writing and the metre, to be more ancient than Gower. The reader will find an extract from it at the end of the play. There is also an ancient romance on this subject, called King Appolyn of Thyre, translated from the French by Robert Copland, and printed by Wynkyn de Worde in 1510. The author of Pericles have ing introduced Gower in his piece, it is reasonable to suppose that he chiefly followed the work of that poet. It is obfervable, that the hero of this tale is, in Gower's poem, as in the present play, called prince of Tyre; in the Gefta Romanorum, and Copland's prose romance, he is entitled king. Most of the incidents of the play are found in the Conf. Amant, and a few of Gower's expressions are occasionally borrowed. However, I think it is not unlikely, that there may have been (though I have not
Assuming man's infirmities,
It met with it) an early profe tranflation of this popular story, from the Geft. Roman, in which the name of Apollonius was changed to Pericles; to which, likewise, the author of this drama may have been indebted.
Pericles was entered on the Stationers' books, May 2, 1608, by Edward Blount, one of the printers of the first folio edition of Shak. speare's plays ; but it did not appear in print till the following year, and then it was published not by Blount, but by Henry Goffon ; who had probabiy anticipated the other, by getting a hasty transcript from a playhouse copy. There is, I believe, no play of our author's, perhaps I might say, in the English language, so incorrect as this. The most corrupt of Shakspeare's other dramas, compared with Pericles, is purity itself. The metre is seldom attended to ; verse is frequently printed as profe, and the grossest errors abound in almost every page. I mention these circumstances, only as an apology to the reader for having taken fomewhat more licence with this drama than would have been justifiable, if the copies of it now extant had been less disfigured by the negligence and ignorance of the printer or transcriber. The numerous corruptions that are found in the original edition in 1609, which have been carefully preserved and augmented in all the subsequent impreffions, probably arose from its having been frequently exhibited on the itage. In the four quarto editious it is called the much admired play of Pericles Prince of Tyre; and it is mentioned by many ancient writers as a very popular performance ; particularly, by the author of a metrical pamphlet, entitled Pymlico or Run away Redcap; in which the following lines are found :
" Amaz'd I stood, to see a crowd
Came to see Shore or Pericles.” From this pamphlet, which was published in 1596, it appears that Pericles had been acted before that year.
The prologue to an old comedy called The Hog has loft his Pearl, 1611, likewise exhibits a proof of its uncommon success. The pcet speaking of his piece, says
“ if it prove to happy as to please, We'll say 'tis fortunate like Pericles." By fortunate, I understand highly successful. The writer can hardly be supposed to have meant that Pericles was popular rather from accident than merit; for that would have been but a poor culogium on his own performance.