nce upon a time there lived a king named Antiochus
who ruled over Antioch . His daughter caught the eye of
many suitors, and to prove their worth they were tasked
with solving a riddle. If they answered it they married the
princess, but if they didn't they were killed. One such
suitor was Pericles, Prince of Tyre, who ventured to the
palace to attempt the riddle.
"I am no viper, yet I feed
On mother's flesh which did me breed.
I sought a husband, in which labour
I found that kindness in a father:
He's father, son, and husband mild;
I mother, wife, and yet his child.
How they may be, and yet in two,
As you will live, resolve it you.,"(1.1.64-71).
Pericles was quick to solve the riddle, but
reluctant to answer. He understood now that
the king and his daughter had an unnaturally
"Great king, few love to hear the sins they love to act...It is
enough you know; and it is fit, what being more known grows
worse, to smother it. all love the womb that their first being bred,
then give my tongue like leave to love my head," (1,1, 92-110).
The king was shocked. Knowing that Pericles was
hinting to the riddles answer, he allowed forty
more days under the guise of letting him have
more time on the riddle so that he may stay in
Antioch. Upon leaving the king, Pericles fled to
Tyre to avoid his sentence. When the king
discovered this he sent Thaliart to assassinate
him. When Pericles returns to Tyre he is
conflicted. He worries that Antiochus may come
after he and his country. Percles seeks wisdom
from Helicanus, one of his advisors. Helicanus
advises him to take a couple years to travel and
let the anger of Antioch fade. Pericles heeds his
advice and decides to first travel to Tarsus.
Meanwhile, Thaliart arrives In Tyre. Upon
discovering Pericles departure, he heads back to
Antioch to report to the king.
The kingdom of Tarsus has been plagued by
famine for many years. A once prosperous nation is
quickly declining, as well as it's rulers Cleon and
Dionyza. They try to lessen their pain by comparing
it to their subjects.
But see what heaven can do! By this our change, these mouths, who
but of late... were all too little to content and please, although they gave
their creatures in abundance, as houses are defiled for want of use,
they are now starved for want of exercise: those palates who, not yet two
summers younger, must have inventions to delight the taste, would now
be glad of bread, and beg for it: those mothers who... are ready now to
eat those little darlings whom they loved. So sharp are hunger's teeth,
that man and wife draw lots who first shall die to lengthen life... here
many sink, yet those which see them fall have scarce strength left to
give them burial. (1, 4, 34-50).