“The care … of subjects’ good”: Pericles, James I, and the Neglect of Government


In lieu of an abstract, the first paragraph of the essay follows:

Critics have generally found the story of Pericles, Prince of Tyre, interesting-if at all-for the strange and marvelous adventures that befall the romance hero as he wanders the ancient Mediterranean world. Yet Pericles is also a prince-a prince who seems curiously uninterested in the fate of his kingdom of Tyre once he takes ship, in Act I, to escape the vengeance of the tyrant Antiochus, a prince who seems oblivious to the important issues of government and statecraft depicted in the diverse realms he visits. Pericles' obliviousness is the more striking since it appears in the context of a virtual education in government provided by a diverse group of rulers: the incestuous and cruel Antiochus, the ineffective but kindly Cleon, the "good Simonides," the licentious but miraculously transformed Lysimachus. Pericles' remoteness and general passivity are striking too because of the contrast with them provided by the energetic conduct of the daughter who will inherit his authority, the "absolute" Marina. Pericles' only daughter confronts and overcomes comparable adversity at the hands of fate, enough to consume all of Act IV and rate prominent mention alongside Pericles on the Quarto title page, which calls attention both to "the whole Historie, aduentures, and fortunes of the said Prince: As also, The no lesse strange, and worthy accidents, in the Birth and Life, of his Daughter MARIANA [sic]."1

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