Pericles, Prince of Tyre: Top Ten Quotes

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  1. ‘That whoso ask’d for his wife,
    His riddle told not, lost his life’
    p.6 Act One Introduction lines 37-38. At this point, Gower introduces to the audience how Antiochus makes possible suitors for his daughter solve a riddle. If they do not solve, they lose their lives; however, as Pericles discovers, if it is solved they also put their lives in danger as it reveals the incestuous relationship between Antiochus and his daughter.
  2. I mother, wife and yet his child.’
    p. 13 Act One Scene One lines 69-70. This is an excerpt from the riddle that Pericles was asked to solve. As these lines demonstrate, they refer to the sexual relationship between father and daughter.Murder’s as near to lust as flame to smoke.’
  3. p. 17 Act One Scene One lines 138-139. Here, Pericles gives his reason for fleeing from Antioch as he realizes that Antiochus will want him dead now that he knows his secret. p. 125 Act Four Scene Five lines 3-4. These words are spoken by one of the gentlemen leaving the brothel having been influenced by Marina’s virtuous preaching. They exit the stage changed men as they vow to listen to the vestals singing rather than visit a ‘bawdy-houses’.
  4. Had spread his cursed deed to th’honour’d name
    Of Pericles, to rage the city turn,
    That him and his they in his palace burn:’
    p. 163 Act Five Epilogue lines11-14. Gower explains here how Cleon and his wife were also punished by the gods for the crime she ‘meant’. Although Cleon did not plan the murder, he is punished for his silence.
  5. ‘He’s father, son and husband mild; One sin, I know, another doth provoke, Why, as men do a-land: the great Ones eat up the little ones. I can Compare our rich misers to nothing
    So fitly as to a whale: a’ plays
    And tumbles, driving the poor fry
    Before him, and at last devours
    Them all at a mouthful.’
    ‘ p. 43-44 Act Two Scene One lines 28-32. In this quotation, the first fisherman is used as mouthpiece to criticize the moral decrepitude of our rich misers’.
  6. If fires be hot, knives sharp, or waters deep, Untied I still my virgin knot will keep.
    Diana aid my purpose!’
    p. 116 Act Four Scene Two lines 145-147. Marina’s virtue and moral strength are expounded in this reference as she refuses to submit to the pressure of Bawd, Boult and Pandar.
  7. ‘The fairest, sweetest and best, lies here, Who wither’d in her spring of year.
    She was of Tyrus the king’s daughter,
    On whom foul death hath made this slaughter.’
    p. 123 Act Four Scene Four lines 34-37. This is an extract from the epitaph inscribed on Marina’s monument. The hypocrisy invested in these words is evident as they are commissioned by Dionyza (and Cleon).
  8. ‘But to have divinity preach’d there! Did you ever dream of such a thing?’ A curse upon him, die he like a thief, That robs thee of thy goodness!’ p. 131 Act Four Scene Six lines 114-115. Lysimachus is similarly influenced by Marina (as the gentleman in the previous quotation). He also leaves the brothel with a different moral vision. ‘In Antiochus and his daughter you have heard Of monstrous lust the due and just reward.
  9. In Pericles, his queen and daughter, seen,
    Although assail’d with fortune fierce and keen,
    Virtue preserv’d from fell destruction’s blast,
    Led on by heaven, and crown’d with joy at last.
    p. 162 Act Five Epilogue lines 1-6. Gower spells out how Antiochus and his daughter are punished for their sins, whereas Pericles, his wife and daughter maintain their virtue despite the tribulations they have suffered. ‘For wicked Cleon and his wife, when fame.
  10. For death remembered should be like a mirror, Who tells us life’s but breath, to trust it error.

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