This weekend I spent the weekend in Wimberley, Texas. One of the boardgames someone wanted to play was Goa – a trading game themed on the historically important region of India. But it’s a four-player game and we had five people, so it never got played. Another that was high on the list and did get played was Perikles – by well-know boardgame designer (yes, there are a few), Martin Wallace.
On the return trip I listened to the NPR Puzzle podcast from the previous weekend. Will Shortz had just returned from some sort of puzzle tournament in Goa. The on-air puzzle was categories in C-H-A-M-P, and plays by Shakespeare was one of them. Can you name a P- play by Shakespeare?
I couldn’t either. So, I looked up Pericles, Prince of Tyre when I got home. Apparently, it’s complete authorship is questioned, but Shakespeare is believed to at least have authored the last part of it.
I also started to read the play, and the opening scene is Pericles trying to win the hand in marriage of a particularly beautiful but notoriously unavailable daughter of Antiochus, King of Athens. Having to resolve a riddle:
I am no viper, yet I feed
On mother’s flesh which did me breed.
I sought a husband, in which labour
I found that kindness in a father:
He’s father, son, and husband mild;
I mother, wife, and yet his child.
How they may be, and yet in two,
As you will live, resolve it you.
Meanwhile my daily bathroom reader, Asimov’s Guide to the Bible, a history book paralleling the Bible, offered up a quote from Matthew wherein Jesus was offering a bitter rebuke to some towns he had preached in, comparing them to the dismal Greeks … “… woe to you, Bethsaida! … It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you.”
And indeed, Asimov mentions Pericles in the introduction to the book as an example of a prominent and important historical figure that so many are ignorant of because, perhaps, he is not in the Bible (having lived centuries later). Whereas historically minimal characters who happen to appear in the Bible are well know. But back to the riddle in the play…
It seems the riddle refers to the daughter the prince wishes to be betrothed to. And when Pericles correctly guesses the king has an incestuous relationship ongoing with his daughter, the king plans to kill him. So, for the rest of the play, Pericles is traveling about, avoiding this intended fate.
Then the next day, Jay tweets about the “House of Horror” Austrian father (71) who was recently caught, when his adult daughter escaped from her father’s custody after 24 years of imprisonment in his basement – bearing seven children to him. (I initially thought it was more detail on an earlier Austrian news story – what’s wrong with those freaks?)
Where will the thread from the ether extend from here?