William Shakespeare's Pericles, Prince of Tyre in the complete original text.
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Pericles, Prince of Tyre

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Pericles, Prince of Tyre Play

Pericles begins with Prince Pericles of Tyre realising that King Antiochus' daughter is pursuing an incestous relationship with her father. Antiochus has even passed a law preventing anyone from marrying his daughter unless they can solve Antiochus' riddle; failure will result in decapitation... Pericles solves the riddle, angering the King who says Pericles is wrong, giving him just forty days to give the "right" answer.

Both Pericles and Antiochus are aware that Pericles knows about the incest... Wisely, Pericles heads for Tyre to escape. Unfortunately, Antiochus will not be escaped so easily, Antiochus sending his chamberlain, Thaliard to pursue the Prince wherever he is. Knowing he will be gone for some time, Pericles appoints his trusted counselor Helicanus to rule on his behalf as regent before setting sail for Tharsus. Arriving in Tharsus, which is suffering a famine, the Prince brings food, earning Governor Cleon and wife Dionyza's gratitude. Learning that Antiochus' forces are near, Pericles heads off to sea again only to be shipwrecked, becoming the only survivor.

Washing up in Pentapolis, Pericles falls for Thaisa, the daughter of Simonides, successfully winning a tournament to win her hand in marriage. Pericles soon learns from Helicanus that the gods have killed Antiochus and daughter by fire for their incestuous affair, the Lords of Tyre petitioning that their Prince return lest mutiny ensue. The Prince thus makes preparations to return by sea with his wife Thaisa, now expecting their child. The sail is not peaceful, the two travellers encountering a storm during which their daughter, Marina is born.

Pericles believes his beloved Thaisa died giving birth. Believing his wife dead, he buries his wife at sea, sealing her in a watertight coffin which washes up in Epheus. Cerimon, discovering Thaisa, successfully revives her, Thaisa assuming that her husband has died. Thaisa thus becomes a vestal virgin, thinking she will never see her husband again. Now a solo parent and fearing the dangerous seas, Pericles entrusts his daughter's care to Governor Cleon and his wife at Tharsus before continuing his voyage for Tyre.

Some sixteen years pass.... Marina has become a beautiful woman, more beautiful than Dionyza's own daughter Philoten, much to Dionyza's annoyance. Dionyza decides to have Marina killed... Unfortunately Dionyza's servant cannot kill the beautiful woman, instead telling his master Dionyza that she is dead when Marina is captured by the pirates of Valdes before the servant can kill her. Cleon, devastated, raises a statue in Marina's memory, Pericles grieving when he visits Tharsus and comes across Marina's tomb.

Marina however is not dead; because of her beauty, the pirates sell her into prostitution in Mytilene. Meanwhile, in a brothel, Marina, refuses to sleep with any man, converting many to a life of virtue instead. Fortunately, Lysimachus, the local Governor of Mytilene soon frees Marina.

Pericles, still grieving for Marina, reaches Mytilene, running into his daughter before eventually recognizing her. Lysimachus proposes to Marina, who happily accepts. Whilst asleep, the Goddess Diana tells Pericles to head for Ephesus. There, he finds Thaisa, now a senior priestess of Diana, completing the reunification of the family. We also learn that the people of Tharsus have burned Cleon and wife Dionyza alive for trying to kill Marina.


Dramatis Personæ

Act I
Prologue, Scene I, Scene II, Scene III,
Scene IV

Act II
Prologue, Scene I,
Scene II, Scene III, Scene IV, Scene V

Prologue, Scene I, Scene II, Scene III, Scene IV

Act IV
Prologue, Scene I, Scene II, Scene III, Scene IV, Scene V, Scene VI

Act V
Prologue, Scene I, Scene II, Scene III

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