Pericles, Prince of Tyre ★★★☆☆

pericles (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Pericles, Prince of Tyre
Series: ———-
Author: William Shakespeare
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Play
Pages: 95
Words: 25K



From Wikipedia

John Gower introduces each act with a prologue. The play opens in the court of Antiochus, king of Antioch, who has offered the hand of his beautiful daughter to any man who answers his riddle; but those who fail shall die.

I am no viper, yet I feed

On mother’s flesh which did me breed.

I sought a husband, in which labour

I found that kindness in a father:

He’s father, son, and husband mild;

I mother, wife, and yet his child.

How they may be, and yet in two,

As you will live, resolve it you.

Pericles, the young Prince (ruler) of Tyre in Phoenicia (Lebanon), hears the riddle, and instantly understands its meaning: Antiochus is engaged in an incestuous relationship with his daughter. If he reveals this truth, he will be killed, but if he answers incorrectly, he will also be killed. Pericles hints that he knows the answer, and asks for more time to think. Antiochus grants him forty days, and then sends an assassin after him. However, Pericles has fled the city in disgust.

Pericles returns to Tyre, where his trusted friend and counsellor Helicanus advises him to leave the city, for Antiochus surely will hunt him down. Pericles leaves Helicanus as regent and sails to Tarsus, a city beset by famine. The generous Pericles gives the governor of the city, Cleon, and his wife Dionyza, grain from his ship to save their people. The famine ends, and after being thanked profusely by Cleon and Dionyza, Pericles continues on.

A storm wrecks Pericles’ ship and washes him up on the shores of Pentapolis. He is rescued by a group of poor fishermen who inform him that Simonides, King of Pentapolis, is holding a tournament the next day and that the winner will receive the hand of his daughter Thaisa in marriage. Fortunately, one of the fishermen drags Pericles’ suit of armour on shore that very moment, and the prince decides to enter the tournament. Although his equipment is rusty, Pericles wins the tournament and the hand of Thaisa (who is deeply attracted to him) in marriage. Simonides initially expresses doubt about the union, but soon comes to like Pericles and allows them to wed.

A letter sent by the noblemen reaches Pericles in Pentapolis, who decides to return to Tyre with the pregnant Thaisa. Again, a storm arises while at sea, and Thaisa appears to die giving birth to her child, Marina. The sailors insist that Thaisa’s body be set overboard in order to calm the storm. Pericles grudgingly agrees, and decides to stop at Tarsus because he fears that Marina may not survive the storm.

Luckily, Thaisa’s casket washes ashore at Ephesus near the residence of Lord Cerimon, a physician who revives her. Thinking that Pericles died in the storm, Thaisa becomes a priestess in the temple of Diana.

Pericles departs to rule Tyre, leaving Marina in the care of Cleon and Dionyza.

Marina grows up more beautiful than Philoten the daughter of Cleon and Dionyza, so Dionyza plans Marina’s murder. The plan is thwarted when pirates kidnap Marina and then sell her to a brothel in Mytilene. There, Marina manages to keep her virginity by convincing the men that they should seek virtue. Worried that she is ruining their market, the brothel rents her out as a tutor to respectable young ladies. She becomes famous for music and other decorous entertainments.

Meanwhile, Pericles returns to Tarsus for his daughter. The governor and his wife claim she has died; in grief, he takes to the sea.

Pericles’ wanderings bring him to Mytilene where the governor Lysimachus, seeking to cheer him up, brings in Marina. They compare their sad stories and joyfully realise they are father and daughter. Next, the goddess Diana appears in a dream to Pericles, and tells him to come to the temple where he finds Thaisa. The wicked Cleon and Dionyza are killed when their people revolt against their crime. Lysimachus will marry Marina.

My Thoughts:

Head and shoulders above Two Noble Kinsmen. Still doesn’t mean this was a favorite of mine though. For only being around 100 pages, this felt twice as long.

I am not sure what this current grouping that I am reading fall into. Historical plays, perhaps? I’m just glad Shakespeare didn’t try to do “old timey wimey” talk like in Two Noble Kinsmen. At least I could understand what was going on.

As my Shakespeare journey continues (I think about 25% done with the Complete Works omnibus that I’m going through), I am beginning to have a lot of sympathy for people who read Charles Dickens but don’t necessarily love his stuff. I LOVE Dickens works and so whenever I read one it is a joy. The same cannot be said of me and Shakespeare. I don’t know how much of this I will ever retain and I certainly am NOT going to be going around and quoting Shakespeare.

No matter the rating of these plays, no matter how much I might enjoy, or not enjoy them, this project is not a waste of time or misguided. Shakespeare is absolutely foundational to Western Literature and while I might think some of those foundation stones are closer to swiss cheese than blocks of granite, they still undergird everything we read today.



bookstooge (Custom)


22 thoughts on “Pericles, Prince of Tyre ★★★☆☆

  1. Mna, I read the complete works when I was a teenager, and they are boring. Your eye just glides across the pages, there are turns of phrase or noteable characters, but when it comes to Shakespeare, everyone knows the good stuff, and there’s a second level of great material. But the duds are duds for sure, Two Noble Kinsman is an absolute trial to read…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’ve had a complete collection since 2000? But just never mustered up the courage to work my way through it. It’s funny but since hitting my 40’s some of my reading priorities have really changed. I’m reading stuff I’ve put off for years and re-reading old favorites more. I’m barely touching recently published books (maybe 10%?). With so many older books available, I have to choose wisely 😀

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I think there’s a badge on honour in reading the lot (ie complete works) but not much else; maybe I might feel differently reading them now. A great book (play or film) looks different as you grow older, but time is short, so there’s a balancing act between reviving the past and finding new stuff. The internet, as noted elsewhere, is both the iceberg and the life-boat in terms of reading…

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I haven’t read this one and I was hoping you’d enjoy it more than you did. That said, I’ll have to discover it myself one of these days.

    Shakespeare is hit and miss for me. I do struggle with his comedies which most people like, although his histories and tragedies I’ve really enjoyed so far. I have plans for either The Taming of the Shrew (I’ve read it already and meh…) or The Merchant of Venice soon. Probably the latter. What’s up next for you?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have no idea what’s up next to be honest. I’m reading an omnibus edition and I just read whatever comes up next. I had about the same experience as you with his comedies as well. I think I’m almost out of them 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Nothing more frustrating than a short book feeling like a longer one. I’ve had that … however I’ve also had fantasy epics feeling 1200 pages rather than their 700 … just a pitfall of books in general 😭

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I had it with Blood of Elves (The Witcher) but I blame that partly on a loss in translation and partly due to tedium.

        Also had it on Priory of the Orange Tree. My word, did that drag. I felt like I’d suffered after it.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m definitely motivated by your own perseverance regarding this omnibus though and it’s nice to hear your resolution regarding completing this one. I’ll probably, later in my life, convince myself that I should do this too and at least I’ll know that some of these are really… bad/unmemorable.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s taken me 20 years to get to this point, so there’s no rush 😀
      And you’ll never get me pushing Shakespeare down someone’s throat. I’ll just sniff and mutter “barbarian”, hahahahaha….

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Man, I really need to try reading all Shakespeare works one day. I have my absolute favorites, but I read them ages ago in translation (phenomenal translation, I might add) and never tried reading The Bard in the original old English. Time to try, I guess 😄

    Liked by 1 person

    1. when the time is right….
      I’d been thinking about doing this type of read through since 2000, so you just have to wait until it seems right and make a “project” out of it 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, join the club! I never had heard of it either and until Jenn Muggrage said something, didn’t even know it was based on some old greek history.
      So now we’re all better informed but probably not much wiser 😆

      Liked by 1 person

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