out of act

< Previous | Next >

mia0815

Senior Member
Taiwanese
“Some such thing I said,” replied Marina, “and said no more than what my thoughts did warrant me as likely.” “Tell me your story,” answered Pericles; “if I find you have known the thousandth part of my endurance, you have borne your sorrows like a man, and I have suffered like a girl; yet you do look like Patience gazing on kings’ graves, and smiling extremity out of act. How lost you your name, my most kind virgin? Recount your story I beseech you. Come, sit by me.”

Tales from Shakespeare by Charles Lamb

What does 'out of act' mean?

Does it mean that Patience looks at extremity (hardship) with a smile and comes to terms with it?

Please help. Thank you.
 
  • velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I think it means "out of action" - with her smile, Patience prevents extremity (utmost severity?) from taking action. I could make a few wild guesses, but I don't really understand what is meant.
     

    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Yes I think it means that your smile counters or eliminates the effect (act) of the hardships (extremity) you have borne.

    Maybe the Lambs weren't sure about it either, as they have copied the original (from Act V Scene I) closely:

    PERICLES.
    Tell thy story;
    If thine consider'd prove the thousandth part
    Of my endurance, thou art a man, and I
    Have suffer'd like a girl: yet thou dost look
    Like Patience gazing on kings' graves, and smiling
    Extremity out of act. What were thy friends?
    How lost thou them? Thy name, my most kind virgin?
    Recount, I do beseech thee: come, sit by me.

    Frankly, I usually find the Shakespeare easier to understand than the Lamb.

    The OED has another example of out of act:

    a1616 Shakespeare All's Well that ends Well (1623) 232/1 He lasted long, But on vs both did haggish Age steale on, And wore vs out of act.
     
    Last edited:

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    As I understand it:


    If thine consider'd prove the thousandth part – If, after I have thought about your story, it turns out to be one thousandth
    Of my endurance, thou art a man, and I – of what I have endured, you are a man, and I
    Have suffer'd like a girl: yet thou dost look - have not really suffered at all: But I see that you are looking at me
    Like Patience gazing on kings' graves, and smiling - like the goddess Patience looks at kings’ graves and smiles away
    Extremity out of act. What were thy friends? - the finality from their deaths. Who were your friends?
    How lost thou them? Thy name, my most kind virgin?
    Recount, I do beseech thee: come, sit by me.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top