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KEY LITERARY ELEMENTS
The play is set in a variety of locations, all in the eastern Mediterranean region, during an unspecified ancient period. The cities are Antioch, Tarsus, Pentapolis, Ephesus and Mytilene, as well as Pericles' princedom of Tyre (or Tyrus). Each of the cities is a seaport, which facilitates the plot that brings them all together. In fact Shakespeare altered the hero's original name (from Gower's work) from Apollomious to Pericles, obviously with a purpose. The name is derived from the Greek word "perikyklos" a compound form of "peri" i.e. around and "kyklos" i.e. circle. Hence the primary aspect of the protagonist is his wandering, more specifically his voyages at sea. The story is ancient in origin. However the play is not meant to be taken as a history play.
Pericles - The ruling prince of Tyre, a princely state in the eastern Mediterranean area. At the beginning of the play, Pericles travels to Antioch in search of a wife. He is a good man and a good ruler. The entire play can be viewed as his quest for happiness.
Thais - The princess of Pentapolis, in Greece. The daughter of King Simonides, she stands for virtue, beauty and chastity. After a brief spell of marital happiness with Pericles, her life is disrupted by a storm at sea. Given up for dead, she spends most of the time in Ephesus at the temple of Diana. She is reunited with her husband and child at the end of the play.
Marina - The child of Pericles and Thaisa. Marina is also an ideal princess, innocent, beautiful, and chaste. Her birth at sea, immediately on the supposed death of her mother, is seen as a symbol of the dual nature of life, which is both creative and destructive simultaneously. She not only grows up separated from her parents but is also put through sufferings and conflicts before she can have a reunion with them.