Study Guide

King Antiochus in Pericles, Prince of Tyre

By William Shakespeare

King Antiochus

Hands down, the King of Antioch gets the "Worst Father of the Year" award. That's because he's lured his own daughter into an incestuous relationship, which makes him want to keep her from getting married and leaving his kingdom.

Since young, single guys are always lining up from all over the world to marry his daughter, Antiochus has come up with a riddle for them to solve if they want to win his daughter's hand in marriage. Suitors who guess incorrectly are put to death. And then Antiochus mounts their heads on his wall like trophies.

Looks like sex and violence are linked in this play. Or maybe we should put it this way: if you have nasty attitudes about sex, chances are you're into violence.

When our boy Pericles comes along and figures out the riddle (which reveals Antiochus's dirty little secret), Antiochus wants him dead, too, and he hires a hit man to go after him. Eventually, Antiochus himself is killed by a bolt of fire when he and his daughter are cruising around in their chariot.

Note to horrible parents everywhere: if you treat your kids badly, you're going down... especially if you're in this play.