In Act 3 Scene 2, From the extract " Niwhe gies, With no less resence, but with much more love. Than young Alcides, when he did redeem The Virgin tribute .............go Hercules"  In what way is...

In Act 3 Scene 2, From the extract " Niwhe gies, With no less resence, but with much more love. Than young Alcides, when he did redeem The Virgin tribute .............go Hercules" 

In what way is Bassanio compared to young Alcides and why does Portia "stand for sacrifice"? 

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Throughout this play, Shakespeare invites the audience to perceive both the actions and other characters through the eyes of Portia. Nowhere are the sympathies of the audience more with Portia than in the scenes in which Bassanio wins her, especially in those anxious moments before he chooses correctly the lead casket.

In Act III, Scene 2, lines 53-60, Shakespeare again displays his knowledge of Greek drama at a time appropriate to intensify his own drama. Here Portia compares herself to the Greek virgin Hesione, Priam's sister, who was offered as a divine sacrifice to the sea monster.* Fortunately, Hercules saved her. In making this allusion, Portia feels as though she is the sacrificial victim, whose destiny is held in the caskets appropriated by her father. She compares Bassanio to young "Alcides" (Hercules) who can save her--"redeem the Virgin"-- by choosing the casket that contains the scroll which congratulates him.

Go, Hercules!
Live thou, I live. (3.2.60-61)
 
If Bassanio chooses correctly and "lives" in the sense of his remaining with her and loving her, Portia will then, also, "live," as her love will be sustained.
 
 
 
*Source: New Variorum Edition of Shakespeare: The Merchant of Venice. 10th edition. 1888
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