BB: Pericles, Act III

Artwork - Daniel J. Rowe
Artwork – Daniel J. Rowe

(Podcast recorded and produced by Daniel J. Rowe, blog written and edited by Eric Jean)

Welcome back to the Bard Brawl! I know you’ve missed us over the past few weeks but here at last – and just in time for the new school year – is act III of Pericles, Prince of Tyre!

Listen to or download the podcast.

At the end of act 2, we learn that Pericles is finally getting married and the lucky winner is Thaisa, the daughter of Simonides. Once they get hitched, it’s off to Tyre! Gower, as usual, brings us up to speed in his prologue.

(FYI, the Shakespeare edition which we use for the show is a little messed up for Pericles. In this case, the prologue for act III is about halfway down the page. It starts with: “Now sleep y-slaked hath the rout”. Act III, scene 1 then start right afterwards, on the same page.)

Of course, what happens on the return trip in act III, scene 1? Yup. Another storm at sea. To make matter worse, Thaisa goes into labour while the storm rages around the ship. The child, Marina is born but Thaisa is pronounced dead and is given a hasty burial at sea. Pericles orders the mariners to set sail for the nearby coast which – as it happens – is the coast of Tarsus.

In scene 2 the action shifts to the home of a Ephesian physician, Cerimon (Not to be confused with this guy). A few men have come to him after they found a sealed casket washed ashore. When they open it, they discover Thaisa and Cerimon realises that she’s not dead. With the help of some cutting edge medical procedures he revives her. It seems strange to me that given the opportunity to really set up a surprise later on, Shakespeare doesn’t even wait a few scenes before revealing to us that Thaisa is still alive. Not to mention that Gower is constantly telling us what’s about to happen in the next scene…


Pericles has made it to Tarsus and after a brief stop to refit the ship, is ready to embark on the final leg of the journey which will take him home to Tyre. For some reason that’s not really clear to me, Pericles leaves his daughter Marina in the care of Clear and Dioniza who accept to raise her as their own until she is old enough to be married. It’s your standard kind of exchange: Pericles has provided Cleon with corn to feed his people, so the only fair thing is for Pericles to ask him to care for his daughter for 15 years.

We return to Thaisa and Cerimon in the last scene of the act. Cerimon has brought her up to speed on where she is. She seems to think that there is no way she will ever be reunited with Pericles so she decides that she going to do the only sensible thing she can and become a nun at Diana’s temple.

Here are some of the characters introduced in act III:

  • Cerimon: He’s a physician in Ephesus. He revives Thaisa. He’s kind of like Miracle Max in The Princess Bride. (I guess she was only mostly dead…)

Stay tuned for pirates in the next episode!

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