In Act Two of Pericles, during the parade of jousters at the Pentapolis tournament, Pericles delivers to Thaisa a “withered branch that’s only green at top” (II.ii.43), with the motto “In hac spe vivo” (II.ii.44).
So what does it mean?
The direct translation is “In this hope I live.”
The other knights bear mottoes like
- Your light is life to me
- More by gentleness than force
- Triumph’s crown has led me on
- Who feeds me extinguishes me (which Simonides explains is a good thing)
- Thus is faithfulness to be tested
These other mottoes, with their evocation of force, triumph, feeding, and tests, seem to be filled with agency. And Pericles’? It’s like he only wants to survive.
This is the thing that’s been bothering me about Pericles as protagonist…