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In Act II, Scene i of The Merchant of Venice, explain the lines, "If Hercules and...

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bobbyroychoud... | eNoter

Posted September 13, 2013 at 6:13 AM via web

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In Act II, Scene i of The Merchant of Venice, explain the lines, "If Hercules and Lichas play at dice...And so may I, blind fortune leading me, Miss that which one unworthier may attain, and die with grieving." 

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durbanville | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted September 13, 2013 at 8:04 AM (Answer #1)

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In The Merchant of Venice, one of Portia's suitors, the Prince of Morocco, is about to make his choice between the three caskets, one of which is gold, one silver and one lead. The Prince has asked Portia not to judge him on his "complexion" and he has told her that he would fight for her and even risk his life taking cubs from their mother or facing a lion when hungry for food just to win her hand in marriage. Unfortunately, this is not the case in these circumstances.

To show how unreasonable the terms of the marriage are Morocco compares Hercules and Lichas - Hercules being the stronger. If these two men were to play a game of dice, the "better" man would be he that throws the highest score - the "greater throw." So this could be the weaker man, strength having nothing to do with the result and , just as Alcides was beaten by his servant ("page") so could Morocco be beaten and miss his opportunity. Someone else, who is not worthy of Portia, may then go on to win her hand. Morocco will

miss that which one unworthier may attain

This will cause him so much grief, he will "die grieving."

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