Story of the Shakespearean Drama.
Pericles, the Prince of Tyre, was unlucky enough to become an enemy of Antiochus, the strong and cruel King of Antioch, and the danger he faced was so enormous that he decided to travel throughout the globe for a while on the advice of his trusted advisor, Lord Helicanus. He made this choice despite the fact that, upon his father’s death, he had become King of Tyre. So he took ship for Tarsus, appointing Helicanus Regent in his place. It was quickly evident that he had made a great decision in abandoning his realm.
He hadn’t even started his journey when Lord Thaliard came from Antioch with orders from his royal lord to assassinate Pericles. The loyal Helicanus found out about this evil lord’s plan quickly, and he sent messengers to Tarsus right away to warn the King of the danger that was coming.
The inhabitants of Tarsus were in such poverty and despair that Pericles, realizing that he could find no secure haven there, sailed to sea again. But a terrible storm struck the ship in which he was, and the excellent ship was sunk, with just Pericles surviving. He was tossed upon the rough rocks on the shore of Pentapolis, the realm of the excellent King Simonides, wounded, wet, and tired. Worn out as he was, he wanted to die as soon as possible. But several fishermen came down to the shore and discovered him, giving him clothing and wishing him well.
One of them said, “Come home with me, and we’ll eat meat on holidays and fish on fasting days. We’ll also have puddings and flapjacks, and you’ll be welcome.”
They informed him that on the next day, numerous princes and knights would go to the King’s Court to fight and contest for the love of his daughter, the lovely Princess Thaisa.
“Did my wealth meet my desires?” Pericles wondered, “I’d want to make one there.”
As he spoke, some fishermen came by, drawing their net, and it dragged heavily, resisting all their efforts, but they finally hauled it in, finding that it contained a suit of rusty body armor. And looking at it, he thanked Fortune for her kindness because he saw that it was his own, given to him by his late father. He urged the fisherman to let him have it so he could travel to court and compete in the competition, promising to compensate them generously if his fortunes improved. The fisherman gladly agreed, and Pericles headed forth in his rusted armor to the King’s Court, fully armed.
Pericles excelled in the tournament, and he was awarded the victory crown, which the lovely Princess herself put on his forehead. Then, at her father’s command, she asked him who he was and where he came from, and he replied that he was a knight of Tyre named Pericles, but he did not tell her that he was the King of that country, because he knew that if Antiochus found out where he was, his life would be worth a pin’s purchase.
Still, Thaisa loved him, and the King was so impressed by how brave and classy he was that he let his daughter do what she wanted when she said she would marry the foreign knight or die.
So Pericles married the lovely woman for whose sake he had fought with the knights, who came in all their strength to duel and contest for her affection.
Meanwhile, the cruel King Antiochus had died, and the people of Tyre, receiving no tidings of their king, petitioned Lord Helicanus to come to the throne. But they could only persuade him to swear to become king if Pericles did not return after a year. Furthermore, he sent messengers to look for the missing Pericles.
Some of them made their way to Pentapolis, where they found their king and informed him how dissatisfied his people were with his lengthy absence and that now that Antiochus was dead, there was nothing to stop him from returning to his kingdom. Then Pericles revealed his true identity to his wife and father-in-law, and they, along with all of Simonides’ followers, were overjoyed to learn that Thaisa’s valiant husband was a king in his own right. So Pericles sailed off for his homeland with his beloved bride. But the sea was unkind to him once again, as a terrible storm broke up, and when it was at its height, a servant arrived to inform him that he had a little girl. This would have made his heart sing, but the servant went on to say that his wife—his lovely, dear Thaisa—had died.
While he was pleading with the gods to be merciful to his small baby daughter, the sailors approached him and told him that the dead queen had to be thrown overboard because the storm would never stop as long as a dead corpse remained on board.So Thaisa was placed in a large box filled with spices and gems, as well as a parchment on which the bereaved King inscribed the following lines:
“Here I give to understand
(If e’er this coffin drive a-land),
I, King Pericles, have lost
This Queen worth all our mundane cost.
Who finds her, give her burying;
She was the daughter of a king.
Besides this treasure, for a fee,
The gods requite his charity!”
The chest was then thrown into the sea, and the waves washed it ashore in Ephesus, where it was discovered by the attendants of a nobleman named Cerimon. He immediately commanded that it be opened, and when he saw how lovely Thaisa looked, he doubted that she was dead and took quick efforts to revive her. Then a tremendous miracle occurred: She, who had been cast into the water as dead, revived. Thaisa withdrew from the world, certain that she would never see her husband again, and became a priestess of the Goddess Diana.
During this time, Pericles traveled to Tarsus with his little daughter, whom he named Marina since she was born at sea. The King left for his own dominions, leaving her in the hands of his old friend, the Governor of Tarsus.
Now Dionyza, the wife of the Governor of Tarsus, was a jealous and malicious woman, and when she saw that Marina had grown up to be a more accomplished and lovely young lady than her own daughter, she resolved to take Marina’s life. So, when Marina was fourteen, Dionyza sent one of her slaves to kidnap and murder her. This monster would have done so if he hadn’t been prevented by some pirates who came in and took Marina with them to Mitylene, where they sold her as a slave. Yet, because of her goodness, elegance, and beauty, she was quickly honored there, and Lysimachus, the young governor, fell deeply in love with her and would have married her, but he thought she was of too humble an ancestry to be the wife of one in his high position.
The evil Dionyza thought, based on her servant’s story, that Marina was indeed dead, and so she erected a monument to her memory, which she exhibited to King Pericles when he returned to visit his much-loved child after a long absence. His sorrow was evident when he learned she had died. He set off again, wearing sackcloth and swearing never to wash his face or trim his hair again. On board the ship, a pavilion had been constructed, and he lay alone for three months, speaking to no one.
Finally, his ship arrived at Mitylene, and Lysimachus, the governor, stepped on board to inquire where the vessel had come from. When he heard of Pericles’ anguish and stillness, he thought of Marina, and assuming that she might awaken the King from his stupor, he sent for her and told her to do her hardest to encourage the King to speak, giving her any reward she desired if she succeeded. Marina eagerly obliged, and after sending the others away, she sat and sang to her poor bereaved father, but despite her wonderful voice, he made no response. So she talked to him, stating that her suffering may exceed his since, despite being a slave, she hailed from ancestors who were equal to great kings.
Something in her voice and narrative struck the King’s heart, and he glanced up at her, and as he did, he realized with astonishment how much like his lost wife she was, so he begged her to recount her story.
Then, despite the King’s interruptions, she informed him who she was and how she had fled the cruel Dionyza. So Pericles recognized that this was his daughter, and he kissed her again, sobbing so hard that his great waves of happiness overwhelmed him in their sweetness. “Give me my robes,” he cried, “and God bless my daughter!”
Then, while no one else could hear it, the melody of celestial music came to him, and as he fell asleep, he saw the goddess Diana in a vision.
“Go to my temple in Ephesus, and while my female priests are assembled, explain how you lost thy wife at sea,” she advised.
Pericles listened to the goddess and narrated his story in front of her temple. He had not finished when the main priestess, shouting out, “You are—you are—O royal Pericles!” fainted to the ground and soon recovered. She spoke to him again, “O my lord, are you not Pericles?” The King exclaimed, “The voice of the late Thaisa!””That Thaisa is me,” she continued, and looking at her, he realized she was telling the truth.
Thus, after long and severe suffering, Pericles and Thaisa found happiness again, and in the joy of their reunion, they forgot the anguish of the past. Not only was Marina very happy to see her parents again, but she also married Lysimachus and became a princess in the kingdom where she had been sold as a slave.