Welcome Brawlers to our speeches podcast for Pericles, Prince of Tyre!
Not one of Shakespeare blockbusters, this play will keep you guessing with its string of improbable twists and turns. The verdict? More people should read it.
You can help popularize Pericles by dropping some of this bardic wisdom (which you’ll have fully memorized by then) the next time you’re at a party. Bonus points for you if you can flash mob one of these.
(We accept video submissions.)
“Of all say’d yet, mayst thou prove prosperous!” Act I, scene 1
Speakers: Antiochus’ daughter, Pericles, Antiochus
So. Pericles gets on a boat and travels to Antioch to try to score this world-renowned princess to be his wife. He’s already managed to impress the girl who is won over by his big bucks and his sexy looks. Like all good potential father-in-laws, Antioch decides he better test this guy to make sure he’s the real deal… by asking him to decipher a riddle.
Okay, no problem. Pericles is up for it. And then he discovers that this pervert is advertising his incestuous relationship with his daughter. Thing is, Antiochus is so used to being surrounded by ‘yes men’ that he’s not prepared for the fact that Pericles is ready to call him out on how disgusting this is. As for the girl? Looks can be deceiving.
“By Juno, that is queen of marriage” Act II, scene 3
Speakers: Thaisa, Simonides, Pericles
Freshly fished out of the sea with his rusted armour, Pericles is hard at work out-jousting the competition at Simonides’ “Marry my Daughter” Royal Rumble when he catches Thaisa’s eye. While she is busy imagining herself getting with that dreamy Pericles, he’s more interested in Thaisa’s dad. “Wow, that guy would totally be an awesome replacement for my dead dad.”
It’s a strange play.
“Thou god of this great vast, rebuke these surges” Act III, scene 1
Speakers: Pericles, Lychorida
Pericles is on his way home to Tyre with his wife when Thaisa goes into labour. Unfortunately, as she’s trying to give birth, a huge storm is raging around them. He is asking the gods to call off the storm. And when the midwife and nurse Lychorida arrives, he hopes that she can help speed things up. Instead, she hands him his daughter, Marina, introduced to her father for the first time as a piece of his dead wife.
“I hold it ever” Act III, scene 2
Speakers: Cerimon, Second Gentleman
Our play’s miracle worker affords himself a moment of moralistic speechifying before going to work bringing Thaisa back from the edge of death. Virtue and cunning > nobles and riches. What type of ‘virtue and cunning’? Alchemy. So you can learn the power over life and death, and use it only for good, right? Well, yes. That’s exactly what Cerimon does. He even takes Thaisa’ crown jewels… for safe keeping, of course.
“My commission” Act IV, scene 1
Speakers: Leonine, Marina
So pirates. Maybe we were a little excited about reading a Shakespearean play with pirates in it so we inflated their importance in our recollection of play. Still, the pirates here actually end up saving Marina’s life, in a very twisted sex-trade driven way. Dionyza ordered Leonine to kill her Marina and he decides that after they have scooped her up and ran off with her to their ship, he should follow along to make sure that they kill her after they have raped her. (I thought my job sucked.) Except, they didn’t rape her. They ‘only’ sold her into slavery where she transformed the lustful governor of Mytilene into a noble, Pericles-approved husband.
“Of Antiochus and his daughter you have heard”, Epilogue (Act V, scene 3)
Are you ready for the moral of the story? I mentioned in the show that I couldn’t think of too many of Shakespeare’s plays which ended with epilogues. Actually, that’s not really accurate. I can name several which do end with some form of epilogue: As You Like It, The Tempest, Twelfth Night, A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
However, Shakespeare’s not generally so heavy-handed. In case we missed it (because being struck down by lightning or burned alive in your palace by a mob are very subtle forms of divine retribution), ‘Gower’ spells out who the heroes and villains are. Pericles, Helicanus and Cerimon: good; Antiochus, Cleon and Dionyza: bad.
Don’t sleep with your daughter and don’t kill your neighbour’s kid.
Geez, good thing you spelled it out for us, Shakey!
Bonus sonnet 67 read by Niki Lambros.
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