Pericles, Prince of Tyre Characters
by William Shakespeare

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Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

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Pericles (PEHR-eh-kleez), the prince of Tyre. When King Antiochus gave him a riddle to solve, the intelligent young man learned too much about the evil king’s incestuous lust for his own daughter. Knowing that his life and his kingdom of Tyre are now in great danger, he flees to impoverished Tarsus, bearing shiploads of food for Cleon’s people. Shipwrecked in storm-driven seas, he is cast ashore in a land governed by good King Simonides, who gives the hapless prince an opportunity to enter the lists. Pericles wins the tournament and the heart of Thaisa, the king’s beautiful daughter. They marry, but he is soon separated from his bride. After many mishaps, he is reunited with his wife and child.


Thaisa (thay-IHS-uh), King Simonides’ lovely young daughter. Seeing Prince Pericles, she is smitten by his charms, even though he is dressed in rusty armor that he fished out of the sea after the shipwreck. When the valiant prince wins the tourney, she is determined to marry him. Shortly after the marriage, she bears him a daughter, apparently dies on board ship, and is put afloat in a tightly caulked casket, in which she drifts to shore and is revived by Cerimon, a lord of Ephesus, skilled in healing.


Marina (mah-REE-nuh), the attractive daughter of Pericles and Thaisa. Born on a ship tossed by a raging storm, she is shortly afterward separated from her father. A good portion of her life afterward is equally tumultuous. Her life threatened because of Dionyza’s hate, she is saved when pirates capture her and take her to a brothel in Mytilene, where she is the despair of Pandar and his bawd because of her unassailable virginity, a condition that drives off and purifies his prospective customers.


Helicanus (hehl-ih-KAY-nuhs), a lord of Tyre. No flatterer, he proves to be a very good friend to Prince Pericles. After the prince flees, this venerable and honorable man looks after the kingdom. He refuses to accept the crown for himself, even though pressed by various powerful lords to do so.


Simonides (si-MON-eh-deez), the king of Pentapolis. A benevolent ruler, he has no objections when his daughter wants to marry Pericles. In fact, through a genial deception, he helps to bring about her marriage to the personable young man.


Antiochus (an-TI-eh-kuhs), the king of Antioch. Because he mistrusts Pericles, this evil ruler forces the prince to leave his kingdom. Having given the prince a riddle to solve, Antiochus becomes afraid when he realizes that Pericles knows the answer—that the king has committed incest with his own daughter. Struck by fire from heaven, he is killed.


(The entire section is 665 words.)