List iconPericlesList icon

Pericles
Act 1, 1 chorus

Synopsis:

Contents

Characters in the Play

Entire Play

The nautical tale of a wandering prince, Pericles is narrated by John Gower, a poet from the English past. Gower explains that…

Act 1, 1 chorus

Gower sets the stage for Pericles’ entrance at Antioch by telling of the incest between Antiochus and his daughter, whom…

Act 1, scene 1

Pericles risks his life to win the hand of Antiochus’s daughter, but, in meeting the challenge, he learns of the…

Act 1, scene 2

Back in his kingdom of Tyre, Pericles, fearing the power of Antiochus, sets sail once again.

Act 1, scene 3

Thaliard arrives in Tyre to find Pericles gone.

Act 1, scene 4

In Tarsus, King Cleon, Queen Dionyza, and the citizens of the country, dying of hunger, are saved by Pericles and…

Act 2, 2 chorus

Gower tells of Pericles’ departure from Tarsus and of the storm that destroys his ships and men and tosses him…

Act 2, scene 1

Fishermen in Pentapolis provide the shipwrecked Pericles with clothing and then pull his armor from the sea. They agree to…

Act 2, scene 2

At the court, Pericles and other knights present their shields to Princess Thaisa, and Pericles wins the tournament.

Act 2, scene 3

Simonides and Thaisa separately express their admiration for “the stranger knight.”

Act 2, scene 4

In Tyre, Helicanus recounts the awful deaths of Antiochus and his daughter. He then agrees to accept the crown twelve…

Act 2, scene 5

King Simonides, learning that Thaisa loves Pericles, pretends to be angry, but then reveals his pleasure at their mutual love.

Act 3, 3 chorus

Gower picks up the story on the night after Pericles and Thaisa’s wedding and carries it forward through Thaisa’s becoming…

Act 3, scene 1

In the storm, Thaisa dies in giving birth and her body is cast into the sea. To save the baby,…

Act 3, scene 2

The body of Thaisa washes ashore in Ephesus, where she is revived by a physician named Lord Cerimon.

Act 3, scene 3

Pericles leaves the infant, Marina, in the care of Cleon and Dionyza and sails for Tyre.

Act 3, scene 4

In Ephesus, Thaisa decides to become a votaress at the temple of Diana.

Act 4, 4 chorus

Gower carries the story forward fourteen years, focusing on the young Marina. Her beauty and talents arouse murderous hatred in…

Act 4, scene 1

Dionyza’s hired murderer, Leonine, is prevented from murdering Marina by pirates, who carry her away to their ship.

Act 4, scene 2

Marina is sold by the pirates to a brothel in Mytilene.

Act 4, scene 3

Dionyza, after Leonine has (falsely) reported Marina’s death, now justifies her actions to a horrified Cleon.

Act 4, scene 4

Gower tells of Pericles’ arrival in Tarsus, his learning of Marina’s death, and his vow of perpetual mourning.

Act 4, scene 5

In Mytilene, Marina preserves her virginity through eloquent pleas to her potential customers. We see the effect on two such…

Act 4, scene 6

Lysimachus, the governor of Mytilene, arrives at the brothel and is so moved (or shamed) by Marina’s eloquence that he…

Act 5, 5 chorus

Gower describes Marina’s success in Mytilene and tells of Pericles’ ship landing on Mytilene’s shores.

Act 5, scene 1

Lysimachus visits Pericles’ ship and sends for Marina, whose music he thinks will revive the grief-stricken king. When Marina tells…

Act 5, scene 2

Gower tells of the celebrations for Pericles in Mytilene and of the betrothal of Marina and Lysimachus.

Act 5, scene 3

At Diana’s temple in Ephesus, Thaisa recognizes Pericles as her husband and is reunited with him and with her daughter.

Act 5, epilogue

Gower reflects on the now-completed story and tells the fate of Cleon and Dionyza.

Include links to:

Images
Glosses
Audio
Video
Essays
Quill icon
1 Chorus
Enter Gower.

GOWER 
 To sing a song that old was sung,
 From ashes ancient Gower is come,
 Assuming man’s infirmities
 To glad your ear and please your eyes.
5 It hath been sung at festivals,
 On ember eves and holy days,
 And lords and ladies in their lives
 Have read it for restoratives.
 The purchase is to make men glorious,
10 Et bonum quo antiquius, eo melius.
 If you, born in these latter times
 When wit’s more ripe, accept my rhymes,
 And that to hear an old man sing
 May to your wishes pleasure bring,
15 I life would wish, and that I might
 Waste it for you like taper light.
 This Antioch, then: Antiochus the Great
 Built up this city for his chiefest seat,
 The fairest in all Syria.
20 I tell you what mine authors say.
 This king unto him took a peer,
 Who died and left a female heir
7

9
Pericles, Prince of Tyre
ACT 1. SC. 1

 So buxom, blithe, and full of face
 As heaven had lent her all his grace;
25 With whom the father liking took
 And her to incest did provoke.
 Bad child, worse father! To entice his own
 To evil should be done by none.
 But custom what they did begin
30 Was with long use accounted no sin.
 The beauty of this sinful dame
 Made many princes thither frame
 To seek her as a bedfellow,
 In marriage pleasures playfellow;
35 Which to prevent he made a law
 To keep her still, and men in awe,
 That whoso asked her for his wife,
 His riddle told not, lost his life.
 So for her many a wight did die,
40 As yon grim looks do testify.
He indicates heads above the stage.
 What now ensues, to the judgment of your eye
 I give my cause, who best can justify.
He exits.