33. Lysimachus, Antiochus, Tyre, Tarsus, Miletum, and the Wise Man Who Wished To Know None of the King’s Secrets

When Thaliard enters in act 1, scene 3 of Pericles, he mentions a story about a wise philosopher who wanted just one thing from a King. As shown, the story comes from “The “The Life of Demetrius” in North’s Plutarch’s Lives.

North’s PlutarchShakespeare’s Pericles and Twelfth Night
but he was much more to be beloved and esteemed for his virtuous and honest conditions… the king made much of him, and giving him good countenance said unto him: “what wilt thou have me give thee of my things, Philippides?”
Even what it shall please thee, O king, so it be none of thy secrets(947).[i]
Thaliard: Well, I perceive he was a wise fellow and had good discretion, that,  being bid to ask what he would of the king, desired he might know none of his secrets: Now do I see he had some reason for’t —Pericles 1.3.3-7

Orsino: What shall I do?
Olivia: Even what it please my lord
Twelfth Night 5.1.116-117

This same chapter includes the name of Lysimachus –and the places Antiochus, Tyre, Tarsus, and Miletum—also all used in Pericles. Simonides, a Greek poet frequently quoted throughout North’s translation, provides the name for another character in the play — while the name of the title character, as well as Cleon, Aeschines, and Philemon, come from North’s chapter on Pericles.

Notice also that Olivia’s response to Orlando’s question in Twelfth also parallels the philosopher’s retort: “Even what it shall please thee, O King.”  


[i] North’s edition here contains a printer’s error here –one of thy secrets –rather than none of thy secrets.

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