Study Guide

Pericles, Prince of Tyre Act 1, Scene 1

By William Shakespeare

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Act 1, Scene 1

Read the full text of Pericles Act 1 Scene 1 with a side-by-side translation HERE.

  • Our hero, Pericles (a.k.a. the "Prince of Tyre") has rolled into Antioch looking to snag the hot princess for his wife.
  • (Oh, by the way, sometimes characters call Pericles a "king." Shakespeare uses both titles interchangeably, and they both just mean he's the head honcho of Tyre.)
  • Pericles is cocky—he tells old Antiochus to bring on the riddle, because he's willing to risk his life.
  • Then Antiochus's daughter gets trotted out for everyone to salivate over. Pericles gets all hot and bothered at the sight of her and tells her dad he can't wait to "taste" her "fruit."
  • Then Pericles brags to the king that he's about to become his new son-in-law.
  • Pericles reads the riddle. It takes him about 0.5 seconds to figure out that the answer to the riddle reveals the dirty little family secret Gower has already told us about—King Antiochus has been sleeping with his daughter. Go to our "Symbols" section for the 411 on the riddle.
  • Pericles is totally disgusted and tells Antiochus's daughter that he's no longer interested in her. Then he turns to Antiochus and says something like, "I know the answer, gross old man, but I think we both know you don't want me to say it out loud."
  • Instead of killing our hero right away, Antiochus plays dumb and offers to give Pericles another 40 days to solve the riddle.
  • Pericles plays along and accepts the offer, but then he jumps in his ship and high-tails it out of Antioch before Antiochus has enough time to plot his murder.
  • The next thing we know, Antiochus is bribing one of his lords (a dude named Thaliard) to poison Pericles, no questions asked.
  • Thaliard's all, "'tis done."
  • Now a Messenger (whose name is Messenger) runs in and is all, "OMG! Pericles has fled!"
  • Antiochus orders Thaliard to go after Pericles and tells him not to come home until the guy is dead meat.

Pericles, Prince of Tyre Act 1, Scene 1 Study Group

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