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The Merchant of Venice

The Merchant of Venice Translation Act 2, Scene 1

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Flourish cornets. Enter the Prince of MOROCCO, a tawny Moor all in white, and three or four followers accordingly, with PORTIA, NERISSA, and their train

MOROCCO

Mislike me not for my complexion, The shadowed livery of the burnished sun, To whom I am a neighbor and near bred. Bring me the fairest creature northward born, Where Phoebus' fire scarce thaws the icicles, And let us make incision for your love To prove whose blood is reddest, his or mine. I tell thee, lady, this aspect of mine Hath feared the valiant. By my love I swear The best-regarded virgins of our clime Have loved it too. I would not change this hue Except to steal your thoughts, my gentle queen.

MOROCCO

Don't dislike me because of my skin color, the shadow-colored skin that results from the burning sun in Africa. Bring me the most beautiful person born in the north, where the light of the sun barely thaws the ice, and let's cut both him and me so you can see whose blood is reddest, his or mine. I'm telling you, my lady, this aspect of my appearance has frightened brave men. By my love, I swear the best-regarded virgins of my land love me. I wouldn't trade my dark skin color for anything, my gentle queen, except to have you think kindly of me.

PORTIA

In terms of choice I am not solely led By nice direction of a maiden’s eyes. Besides, the lottery of my destiny Bars me the right of voluntary choosing. But if my father had not scanted me And hedged me by his wit to yield myself His wife who wins me by that means I told you, Yourself, renownèd Prince, then stood as fair As any comer I have looked on yet For my affection.

PORTIA

In terms of my choosing a husband, I care about more than looks. And besides, my destiny is to be decided by a lottery, so I can't even choose for myself. But if my father hadn't robbed me of that right as I described to you, you would be as good a potential husband in me eyes, renowned Prince, as anyone else. 

MOROCCO

Even for that I thank you. Therefore I pray you lead me to the caskets To try my fortune. By this scimitar That slew the Sophy and a Persian prince That won three fields of Sultan Solyman, I would o'erstare the sternest eyes that look, Outbrave the heart most daring on the earth, Pluck the young sucking cubs from the she-bear, Yea, mock the lion when he roars for prey, To win the lady. But, alas the while! If Hercules and Lychas play at dice Which is the better man, the greater throw May turn by fortune from the weaker hand. So is Alcides beaten by his page, And so may I, blind fortune leading me, Miss that which one unworthier may attain And die with grieving.

MOROCCO

Thank you for that compliment. Therefore, I beg you to lead me to the caskets so I can try my luck. By this sword with which I killed the leader of Persia and a Persian prince, and with which I won three battles against Sultan Solyman, I swear that I would stare down the sternest eyes in the world, be braver than the most daring man on earth, steal the bear cubs from a suckling mother bear, and even mock a lion roaring at his prey—all to win you. But alas! If Hercules and his servant Lychas had to play a game of dice to decide the better man, the weaker man might win by luck. So the great Hercules could be beaten by his own servant, and so I might lose you to a less worthy man because of blind luck. If that happened, I would die of grief.

PORTIA

You must take your chance, And either not attempt to choose at all Or swear before you choose, if you choose wrong Never to speak to lady afterward In way of marriage. Therefore be advised.

PORTIA

You must try your luck. Either don't attempt it at all, or promise before you choose a casket that if you choose the wrong one you will never speak to a lady about marriage again. Be warned.

MOROCCO

Nor will not. Come, bring me unto my chance.

MOROCCO

I promise. Come on, bring me to the caskets.

PORTIA

First, forward to the temple. After dinnerYour hazard shall be made.

PORTIA

First, let's go forward to the temple. After dinner, you can try your luck.

MOROCCO

Good fortune then!—To make me blessed or cursed’st among men.

MOROCCO

May I have good luck, then! I'll either be a blessed or a cursed man.

Cornets

Exeunt

The merchant of venice
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Matt cosby
About the Translator: Matt Cosby
Matt Cosby graduated from Amherst College in 2011, and currently works as a writer and editor for LitCharts. He is from Florida but now lives in Portland, Oregon, where he also makes art, plays the piano, and goes to dog parks.