Antiochus is a character in William Shakespeare's play, Pericles, Prince of Tyre. He is the King of Antioch and plays a significant role in the early part of the play. Although he appears in only a few scenes, his actions and decisions greatly impact the events that follow.
Antiochus is portrayed as a powerful and cunning ruler who poses a formidable challenge to anyone who seeks the hand of his daughter, the princess. However, Antiochus guards a dark secret that he will go to great lengths to protect.
In the play, Antiochus sets up a riddle that any suitor must solve in order to win the princess's hand in marriage. The riddle is a test of the suitor's knowledge and wit, but it also serves as a means for Antiochus to ensure that his secret remains hidden.
Antiochus's dark secret is revealed when Pericles, the Prince of Tyre, comes to Antioch seeking the princess's hand. Pericles solves the riddle, uncovering the truth that Antiochus is engaged in an incestuous relationship with his daughter. Shocked and disgusted, Pericles flees Antioch with the threat of Antiochus's wrath hanging over him.
The revelation of Antiochus's secret sets into motion a series of events that drive the narrative of the play. Pericles embarks on a journey to escape Antiochus's pursuit and faces numerous challenges and adventures along the way.
Antiochus's character serves as a catalyst for Pericles's journey and the subsequent trials he faces. His actions not only force Pericles into exile but also highlight the themes of morality, loyalty, and the consequences of one's choices.
Despite his limited appearances in the play, Antiochus's presence looms large over the narrative. His character represents the corrupting influence of power and the lengths people will go to maintain their positions of authority.
Antiochus's downfall ultimately comes as a result of his own actions, serving as a cautionary tale about the dangers of deceit and moral corruption. Although he may be a villainous character, Antiochus plays a vital role in shaping the events and themes of Pericles, Prince of Tyre.