could be "mother, wife and yet his child" Pericles rebuts her with "Good sooth, I care not for you" (87) and is obviously on the point of pushing her away when Antiochus warns him not to touch her.
Incest has contaminated Pericles' senses; what attracted him as being outwardly full of light and music, now repels him. This new knowledge contaminates his perception of the world and will actively pursue him; effectively he suffers his own Fall at the hands of this "celestial tree." Pericles begs not to have to answer the riddle:"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." (93-109)
Knowing he has been found out, Antiochus grants Pericles forty days' grace; aware that "Murder's as near to lust as flame to smoke" (139), the latter decides to escape. It is a wise decision: we see Antiochus commanding his servant Thaliard to kill Pericles, and the scene ends with the assassin setting off in pursuit.Act 1.2
Back home in Tyre, Pericles is melancholy, prevented from enjoying his safety by the thought of Antiochus' anticipated attempts to silence him."Then it is thus: the passions of the mind,
That have their first conception by mis-dread,
Have after-nourishment and life by care;
And what was first but fear what might be done,
Grows elder now and cares it not be done." (12-16)
Ever since he understood the riddle, Pericles seems to be trapped inside one. He has no way to extricate himself from his "care", nor from the consequences of his knowledge that will involve not only him, but also all his subjects. His anxiety is not cowardice, for it comes of his understanding that his place in the social hierarchy means that if he is a victim, then those beneath him are victims too; the process is as inevitable as a secret, once known, is irrecoverable. Pericles has a fine understanding of this vulnerability, as he showed in the previous scene:"The blind mole casts
Copp'd hills towards heaven, to tell the earth is thronged
By man's oppression; and the poor worm doth die for't
Kings are earth's gods; in vice their law's their will;
And if Jove stray, who dares say Jove doth ill?" (1.1.101-5)
His lords enter, or rather re-enter, for they rather absurdly appear at the beginning of the scene only to be ordered away again. The first two wish him joy, comfort and peace, both far from his mind. They are dismissed as flatterers by Helicanus who claims that "reproof, obedient and in order / Fits kings" (43- 4). In some respects Helicanus resembles Paulina in The Winter's Tale, who to Leontes is indeed "a physician... That ministers a potion" (67-8), but the difference is that Pericles has not committed any sin. Furthermore, Helicanus, unlike Paulina, does not reproach his master, but like a therapist, lets the prince unburden himself. The use of the word "reproach" and the attack on flattery, whilst inappropriate given Pericles' innocence, nevertheless reinforces an impression of guilt, a sense that the secret contaminates all that it touches. Helicanus convinces Pericles of his integrity by having the courage to speak out of turn, and is confided in; despite having been determined to keep it to himself, Pericles tells him the secret.
Helicanus suggests that since Pericles alone is the object of Antiochus' wrath, he should "go travel" while Helicanus looks after the kingdom; maybe Antiochus will forget, or die. Pericles will not have Helicanus swear loyalty: "I'll take thy word for faith, not ask thine oath / Who shuns not to break one will crack both" (120- 1). Meanwhile, the two assassins in the play, Thaliard and Leonine, both refer to their being bound by oaths. The disparagement of verbal assurances is typical of Shakespeare, part of the rhetoric of the stage that, by having the audience mistrust the characters, indirectly persuades them to trust the drama.Act 1.3
Reflecting on the danger of knowing kings' secrets - "for if a king bid a man to be a villain, he's bound by the indenture of his oath to be one" (6-7), the assassin duly arrives, only to hear Helicanus proclaim that Pericles, having in some unknown way offended Antiochus, has put himself "unto the shipman's toil" (23) and possible death in order to show his penitence. This is enough for Thaliard, who assumes he is dead.Act 1.4
The scene begins with Cleon, governor of famine-struck Tharsus suggesting to his wife Dionyza that they comfort each other with stories of others' misfortunes. Dionyza thinks this will only exacerbate their
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