Gaius Valerius Catullus was born at Verona in Northern Italy. Scholars have made the educated guess that the date was about 84 B.C., and that he died about 54, though there are those who think that he lived on to a ripe old age. His family was of some standing in the province of Cisalpine Gaul -- for instance, we see that his father was in a position to entertain Julius Caesar when he was governor. Catullus came to Rome young and for the rest of his life it was his home, but he remained a northerner and did not lose touch with his province: he was back in Verona after the death of his brother in Asia, and it was to a villa at Sirmio on Lake Garda, presumably a family property, that he returned from foreign travel. At Rome he moved in fashionable society and there he fell under the spell of the woman whom he calls Lesbia. Her real name was Clodia and there are grounds for supposing (though the identification cannot be proved) she was the sister of P. Clodius Pulcher, Ciceroŧs enemy, and the wife of Metellus Celer, governor of Cisalpine Gaul (modern Northern Italy) from 64 to 62.
Catullus is generally credited with bringing the poetics of Alexandria to Rome.1 Greek poets such as Callimachus had defined a canon of terse, allusive poetry that thrived on subtle artifice and exotic learning. Though Catullus apparently belonged to a group of stylish young poets, called the neoteroi (new poetsž -- we might be tempted to call them the avante garde), of this groupŧs production only his poetry survived the ravages of time and taste. Therefore we look to Catullus as the pioneer who brought the subtle personal verse forms of the sophisticated eastern Mediterranean into the Latin language.
Recording of the meter of Catullus 3
lugete o Veneres Cupidinesque
et quantum est hominum venustiorum
passer mortuus est meae puellae,
passer, deliciae meae puellae,
quem plus illa oculis suis amabat:
nam mellitus erat suamque norat
ipsam tam bene, quam puella matrem,
nec sese a gremio illius movebat,
sed circumsiliens modo huc, modo illuc
ad solam dominam usque pipiabat.
qui nunc it per iter tenebricosum
illuc, unde negant redire quemquam.
at vobis male sit, malae tenebrae
Orci, quae omnia bella devoratis:
tam bellum mihi passerem abstulistis.
o factum male! o miselle passer!
tua nunc opera meae puellae
flendo turgiduli rubent ocelli.
A basic recording of the meter (650k wave)
ille mi par esse deo videtur,
ille, si fas est, superare divos,
qui sedens adversus identidem te
spectat et audit
dulce ridentem, misero quod omnis
eripit sensus mihi: nam simul te,
Lesbia, aspexi, nihil est super mi
vocis in ore.
lingua sed torpet, tenuis sub artus
flamma demanat, sonitu suopte
tintinant aures, gemina teguntur
otium, Catulle, tibi molestum est:
otio exultas nimiumque gestis.
otium et reges prius et beatas
a recording of these lines (900 k wav)
sicine me patriis avectam, perfide, ab aris,
perfide, deserto liquisti in litore, Theseu?
sicine discedens neglecto numine divum,
immemor a! devota domum periuria portas?
nullane res potuit crudelis flectere mentis
consilium? tibi nulla fuit clementia praesto,
immite ut nostri vellet miserescere pectus?
at non haec quondam blanda promissa dedisti
voce mihi, non haec miserae sperare iubebas,
sed conubia laeta, sed optatos hymenaeos,
quae cuncta aerii discerpunt irrita venti.
nunc iam nulla viro iuranti femina credat,
nulla viri speret sermones esse fideles;
quis dum aliquid cupiens animus praegestit apisci,
nihil metuunt iurare, nihil promittere parcunt:
sed simul ac cupidae mentis satiata libido est,
dicta nihil meminere, nihil periuria curant.
certe ego te in medio versantem turbine leti
eripui, et potius germanum amittere crevi,
quam tibi fallaci supremo in tempore dessem.
pro quo dilaceranda feris dabor alitibusque
praeda, neque iniacta tumulabor mortua terra.
quaenam te genuit sola sub rupe leaena,
quod mare conceptum spumantibus exspuit undis
quae Syrtis, quae Scylla rapax, quae vasta Carybdis,
talia qui reddis pro dulci praemia vita?
si tibi non cordi fuerant conubia nostra,
saeva quod horrebas prisci praecepta parentis,
attamen in vestras potuisti ducere sedes,
quae tibi iucundo famularer serva labore,
candida permulcens liquidis vestigia lymphis,
purpureave tuum consternens veste cubile...
Sextus Propertius was born between 54 and 47 B.C. at Assisi, where his family were local notables. His father died early, and the family property was much diminished by Octavian's confiscations of 41-40. Like others of his class, Propertius rejected the dull pursuit of office; his rhetorical education was employed in poetry, not in the courts. Following the example of Cornelius Gallus, he celebrated his love for a mistress to whom he gave the fancy Greek pseudonym of Cynthia; Apuleius says her real name was Hostia.
Propertius was included among that group of poets whose patron was Augustus' advisor, Maecenas. Other members of this group were Vergil, Horace, and apparently the young Ovid. Propertius' elaborate and self-conscious artistry, his vivid visual and tactile imagination, and his success in integrating what he derives from Greek literature with Roman feeling and Roman life make him one of the most continuously fascinating of the Latin poets.
Some historical background is necessary for a complete understanding of the following poem. After Julius Caesar's assassination in 44 the great general's will left his suddenly adopted son, Gaius Octavius (after adoption Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus), in a strong position, though there was still great popular support for Marc Antony. The second triumvirate was formed and a third of the empire was divided out to each of Antony, Lepidus and Octavian. The aristocratic group that assassinated Caesar opposed this triumvirate, and thus ensued a period of civil war. One of the more savage episodes of these civil wars was Octavian's reduction of Perusia, a city near to the capitol Rome. After besieging the city and successfully reducing it, Octavian allowed his soldiers to plunder and kill. Apparently one of Propertius' relatives was killed there, and preserved in this poem of Propertius.
(meter elegiac couplets) Propertius' relative, wounded and dying after the siege of Perusia [41 B.C.], asks a passerby to report his death to his sister
recording of the poem's meter (550k wave)
"Tu, qui consortem properas evadere casum,
miles ab Etruscis saucius aggeribus,
quid nostro gemitu turgentia lumina torques?
pars ego sum vestrae proxima militiae.
sic te servato possint gaudere parentes:
me soror Acca tuis sentiat e lacrimis,
Gallum, per medios ereptum Caesaris ensis
effugere ignotas non potuisse manus;
et quaecumque super dispersa invenerit ossa
montibus Etruscis, haec sciat esse mea."
consors, consortis, adj. - sharing in common.
propero, properare - to hurry, hasten.
evado, evadere - to escape, run away from.
casus, casus, m. - chance, fate, disaster.
saucius-a-um - wounded.
agger, aggeris, m. - rampart, mound.
gemitus, gemitus, m. - groaning.
turgeo, turgere - to swell.
lumen, inis, n. - light; (pl.) eyes.
torqueo, torquere - turn, twist, bend.
proxima is best to be understood temporally with pars, that is, "closest to you in time" or possibly "the last part of your army." Scholars have not arrived at a clear interpretation of this usage.
servo, servare - to save. te servato represents a distinct clause separated from the surrounding sentence in the ablative case (the so-called ablative absolute).
Acca is the name of the dying soldier's sister.
sentio, sentire - to perceive (either with the senses or the mind).
Gallus is the name of Propertius' kinsmen killed at the battle of Perugia.
eripio, eripere - tear away, rescue.
Caesar, Caesaris, m. - here referring to Iulius Caesar Octavianus, the adopted son of Julius Caesar who later came to be known as Augustus.
ensis, is, m. - sword (here used in the accusative plural which could be written either enses or ensis and apparently was pronounced similarly either way).
qualis Thesea iacuit cedente carina
languida desertis Gnosia litoribus,
qualis et accubuit primo Cepheia somno
libera iam duris cotibus Andromede,
nec minus assiduis Edonis fessa choreis
qualis in herboso concidit Apidano:
talis visa mihi mollem spirare quietem
Cynthia non certis nixa caput manibus,
ebria cum multo traherem vestigia Baccho
et quaterent sera nocte facem pueri.
hanc ego, nondum etiam sensus deperditus omnes,
molliter inpresso conor adire toro.
et quamvis duplici correptum ardore iuberent
hac Amor hac Liber, durus uterque deus,
subiecto leviter positam temptare lacerto,
osculaque admota sumere et arma manu,
non tamen ausus eram dominae turbare quietem
expertae metuens iurgia saevitiae;
sed sic intentis haerebam fixus ocellis,
Argus ut ignotis cornibus Inachidos.
et modo solvebam nostra de fronte corollas
ponebamque tuis, Cynthia, temporibus,
et modo gaudebam lapsos formare capillos,
nunc furtiva cavis poma dabam manibus,
omniaque ingrato largibar munera somno,
munera de prono saepe voluta sinu.
et quotiens raro duxti suspiria motu,
obstupui vano credulus auspicio,
ne qua tibi insolitos portarent visa timores,
neve quis invitam cogeret esse suam:
donec diversas praecurrens luna fenestras,
luna moraturis sedula luminibus,
compositos levibus radiis patefecit ocellos.
sic ait in molli fixa toro cubitum:
"tandem te nostro referens iniuria lecto
alterius clausis expulit e foribus?
namque ubi longa meae consumpsti tempora noctis
languidus exactis, ei mihi sideribus?
o utinam tales perducas, inprobe, noctes,
me miseram quales semper habere iubes!
nam modo purpureo fallebam stamine somnum,
rursus et Orpheae carmine fessa lyrae;
interdum leviter mecum deserta querebar
externo longas saepe in amore moras:
dum me iocundis lapsam Sopor inpulit alis.
illa fuit lacrimis ultima cura meis."
Horace was born to a freedman, who amassed enough wealth to ambitiously send his son to a schoolmaster of note in Rome. He studied briefly in Athens, joined with Brutus' army in the civil war, after which he found his father dead and the family farm confiscated. By 38 he entered into the patronage of Maecenas, who was a close friend of Octavian (soon to be Augustus, emperor), and patron of Vergil. He is generally considered the greatest craftsman of Latin poetry, and his Odes have been recognized as classics from his own lifetime to the present. The following, Odes 1.5, is perhaps the most translated poem in Latin, and often considered the most perfect. (meter: third asclepiadic strophe -- no tape due for this difficult meter)
quis multa gracilis te puer in rosa
perfusus liquidis urget odoribus
grato, Pyrrha, sub antro?
cui flavam religas comam,
simplex munditiis? heu quotiens fidem
mutatosque deos flebit et aspera
nigris aequora ventis
qui nunc te fruitur credulus aurea,
qui semper vacuam, semper amabilem
sperat, nescius aurae
fallacis. miseri quibus
intemptata nites: me tabula sacer
votiva paries indicat uvida
vestimenta maris deo.
Ovid was born a generation after Horace, Propertius, and Vergil, but is considered a member of their "golden" age of poetry. He wrote elegiac poetry that apparently got him exiled by the emperor Augustus. His recognized masterpiece is the Metamorphoses, from which this selection is taken. This hybrid of epic and didactic poetry summarizes history from a mythical viewpoint. Here Ovid retells the story of Daedalus and Icarus. (meter dactylic hexameter)
Basic Recording of the Meter
instruit et natum, "medio" que "ut limite curras,
Icare," ait, "moneo, ne, si demissior ibis,
unda gravet pennas, si celsior, ignis adurat.
inter utrumque vola. nec te spectare Booten
aut Helicen iubeo strictumue Orionis ensem;
me duce, carpe viam." pariter praecepta volandi
tradit et ignotas umeris accommodat alas.
inter opus monitusque genae maduere seniles,
et patriae tremuere manus. dedit oscula nato
non iterum repetenda suo, pennisque levatus
ante volat comitique timet, velut ales ab alto
quae teneram prolem produxit in aera nido,
hortaturque sequi damnosasque erudit artes,
et movet ipse suas et nati respicit alas.
hos aliquis tremula dum captat harundine pisces,
aut pastor baculo stivave innixus arator,
vidit et obstipuit, quique aethera carpere possent,
credidit esse deos.
medio limite="middle boundary," middle course (abl. of limes)
demissus="sent down," lower
gravare=to weigh down
me duce=with me as leader (ablative absolute)
accommodare=accommodate something(acc.) to something else (dat.)
maduere=maduerunt, from madere, to be wet. -ere is a poetic form of erunt in the perfect.
tremuere=tremuerunt (tremere, to tremble)
repetenda=fut. pass. participle, "about to be repeated"
ales= here "bird"
innixus=leaning on (innitor)
-ve=vel like que=et, i.e., baculo stivave=baculo vel stiva
This is how the Roman historian Tacitus sums up the life of Petronius: "Petronius spent his days sleeping, his nights working and enjoying himself. Others achieve fame by energy, Petronius by laziness. Yet he was not, like others who waste their resources, regarded as dissipated or extravagant, but as a refined voluptuary. People liked the apparent freshness of his unconventional and unselfconscious sayings and doings. Nevertheless, as governor of Bithynia and later as consul, he had displayed a capacity for business.
Then, reverting to a vicious or ostensibly vicious way of life, he had been admitted into the small circle of Nero's intimates, as Arbiter of Taste: to the blase emperor nothing was smart and elegant unless Petronius had given it his approval. So Tigellinus, loathing him as a rival and a more expert hedonist, denounced him on the grounds of his friendship with Flavius Scaevinus. This appealed to the emperor's outstanding passion -- his cruelty. A slave was bribed to incriminate Petronius. No defence was heard. Indeed, most of his household were under arrest.
The emperor happened to be in Campania. Petronius too had reached Cumae; and there he was arrested. Delay, with its hopes and fears, he refused to endure. He severed his own veins. Then, having them bound up again when the fancy took him, he talked with his friends -- but not seriously, or so as to gain a name for fortitude. And he listened to them reciting, not discourses about the immortality of the soul or philosophy, but light lyrics and frivolous poems. Some slaves received presents -- others beatings. He appeared at dinner, and dozed, so that his death, even if compulsory, might look natural." (Annals 16.17-18)
He left to us in very fragmentary form a novel depicting the seedier side of Roman life. We are fortunate that a short series of poems was included in the manuscript of the novel, from which the following was chosen.
(meter hendecasyllabic) an example of a poem that takes the reader from "grosser" pleasure to eternal delight in the Epicurean tradition
A Recording of the Meter
foeda est in coitu et brevis voluptas
et taedet Veneris statim peractae.
non ergo ut pecudes libidinosae
caeci protinus irruamus illuc
(nam languescit amor peritque flamma);
sed sic sic sine fine feriati
et tecum iaceamus osculantes.
hic nullus labor est ruborque nullus:
hoc iuvit, iuvat et diu iuvabit;
hoc non deficit incipitque semper.
Columba was an Irish monk who later achieved sainthood in the Roman Catholic Church (which had successfully established itself a century earlier in Ireland). This distant island became a surprising center of learning in this period as barbarian warlords divided the old western Roman Empire among themselves, and as autocratic Byzantine emperors fought a more and more desperate defense against eastern invaders (culminating in virtual eclipse by the Arabs and Turks). As will be seen in this work, one cannot assume that this new monastic culture of Ireland slavishly imitated its Roman models.
In the Noli, Pater this Irish saint expresses an aspect of his love for his God
te timemus terribilem nullum credentes similem,
o Iesu amantissime, o rex regum rectissime.
noli, pater, indulgere tonitruo cum fulgure,
ne frangamur formidine huius atque uridine.
te cuncta canunt carmina angelorum per agmina,
teque exaltent culmina caeli vaga per fulmina.
benedictus in saecula recta regens regimina.
Iohannes coram Domino adhuc matris in utero
repletus Dei gratia pro vino atque sicera (a Hebrew borrowing that we'll call "whiskey").
Elisabeth Zachariae virum magnum genuit
Iohannem Baptistam, praecursorem Domini.
Manet in meo corde Dei amoris flamma,
ut in argenti vase auri ponitur gemma.
The Carmina Burana are a collection of Latin songs and poems discovered in a German monastery and generally dated to the twelth and thirteenth centuries or the high Middle Ages. They have been valued highly for their insight into the vivacity and playfullness of medieval poets. They are often connected with the tradition of the vagantes, or wandering scholars, who traversed Europe like gypsies, living off the land, singing of love and life, and yet also seeking out profound learning and novel forms of expression.
(stressed and rhymed meter like English poetry) a wistful student's thoughts on love
Dum Diane vitrea
sero lampas oritur,
et a fratris rosea
luce dum succenditur,
dulcis aura zephyri
spirans omnes etheri
vi chordarum pectora,
cor, quod nutat
ad amoris pignora
Letum jubar hesperi
O quam felix est antidotum soporis,
quot curarum tempestates
sedat et doloris!
Dum surrepit clausis
Morpheus in mentem trahit impellentem
per arenas puras,
qui furantur somno
Post blanda Veneris
in palpebrarum rate!
Hei, quam felix transitus
amoris ad soporem
sed suavior regressus
soporis ad amorem!
stabat mater dolorosa
iuxta crucem lacrimosa
dum pendebat Filius,
cuius animam gementem
contristantem et dolentem
o quam tristis et afflicta
fuit illa benedicta
quae maerebat et dolebat
et tremebat, dum videbat
Nati poenas incliti.
quis est homo qui non fleret
matrem Christi si videret
in tanto supplicio?
quis non posset contristari
piam matrem contemplari
dolentem cum filio?
pro peccatis suae gentis
vidit Iesum in tormentis
et flagellis subditum,
vidit suum dulcem Natum
dum emisit spiritum.
pia mater, fons amoris,
me sentire vim doloris
fac ut tecum lugeam,
fac ut ardeat cor meum
in amando Christum Deum,
ut sibi complaceam.
This orphan, born near the Danube (near the border of modern Hungary), was sent to Italy for his education by a wealthy uncle. There he attended the most celebrated school of Guarino in Ferrara which offered study in the "modern" Renaissance curriculum, that is, in the great authors of Classical Greece and Rome. Most of his poetry was composed before he was twenty years old. After studies in Italy he spent time in the magnificent court of Matthew Corvinus at Budapest, and settled into the bishopric of Pecs (in central Hungary) where he died at the age of 38. He is best known for a large collection of epigrams dealing with life among the elite of Renaissance Italy.
(meter hendecasyllabic) the 15th century Martial states his opinion on religion and poetry in polished Classical mode
a recording of the poem
cur et tu, rogo, cur, poeta cum sis,
Parnasi tamen arce derelicta,
cum capsa, Galeotte, cum bacillo,
Romanam peregrinus is in urbem?
hoc plebs credula gentium exterarum,
hoc larvas solitum timere vulgus,
hoc turbae faciant hypocritarum.
tu senti mihi quod putavit olim
vafri callidus Euathli magister,
aut divum Theodorus abnegator,
vel sectae pater ille delicatae
summum qui statuit malum dolorem.
sin devotio tam beata cordi est,
si torto iuvat ambulare collo,
cuncta et credere, quae dies per omnes
rauca praedicat altus e cathedra
Albertus pater et loquax Rubertus,
gaudens lacrimulis anicularum,
dilectis, age, dic valere musis,
sacras rumpe fides, et alma Phoebi
claudo carmina da fabro deorum.
nemo religiosus et poeta est.
Galeotto Marzio of Narni (1427- c. 1497) was in Ferrara in 1447 and later taught Latin literature in Bologna. He was a close friend of Janus and visited Hungary several times.
capsa/bacillo -- these represent the paraphernalia of a Christian pilgrimage.
Evathlius was reputed to be a student of Protagoras (5th cent. B.C. Greek philosopher) who adopted an agnostic position towards the gods.
Theodore of Cyrene (c. 485 B.C.) was forced to move to Athens because he denied the existence of the gods. His is reputed to have taught Plato.
Epicurus (3rd cent. B.C.), the founder of the Epicurean school which taught that the gods are detached and unknowable.
Alberto Berfini da Sarziano (1385-1450) and Roberto Caracciola da Lecce (1425-1495) were well-known Franciscan Priests who drew large crowds to their masses.]
Born into an affluent and artistic Victorian family, Hopkins received the best education of his time, and showed great promise at University. He later converted to Roman Catholicism, and entered into the Society of Jesus or the Jesuits. His priesthood did not quell his poetic output completely, and what he left us, both in Latin and English, is generally considered among the best poetry of his period.
(meter hendecasyllabic) translation of Shakespeare's "Tell me where fancy is bred" (Merchant of Venice, III.ii)
a recording of the poem
rogo vos Amor unde sit, Camenae.
quis illum genuit? quis educavit?
qua vel parte oriundus ille nostra
sit frontis mage pectorisne alumnus
consultae memorabitis, sorores.
amorem teneri creant ocelli;
pascunt qui peperere; mox eundem
aversi patiuntur interire.
nam cunas abiisse ita in feretrum!
amorem tamen efferamus omnes,
quem salvere jubemus et valere
sic, o vos pueri atque vos puellae:
eheu heu, Amor, ilicet, valeto.
Eheu heu, Amor, ilicet, valeto.
[Tell me where is fancy bred,
Or in the heart or in the head?
How begot, how nourished?
It is engender'd in the eyes,
With gazing fed; and fancy dies
In the cradle where it lies.
Let us all ring fancy's knell;
I'll begin it, -- Ding, dong, bell.
-- All --
Ding, dong, bell.]
Summary of the plot of the Merchant of Venice
Bassanio, a fun loving, improvident young gentleman of Venice, is very much in love with the beautiful Portia of Belmont, heiress to a princely name and such a colossal fortune that distinguised men from all parts of the world come to court her. Knowing he has no chance of winning her without sufficient funds to defray his expenses, Bassanio turns as usual to his good friend Antonio, a wealthy merchant, regretting his previous heedlessly contracted debts and suggesting that a little present assistance might help him eventually to return all the borrowed money.
The generous, lovable Antonio seems sad, as though vaguely apprehensive of coming distress, but responds immediately to his young friendšs request for a loan of three months. Antoniošs entire wealth at the time happens to be tied up in his merchandise-laden ships at sea, but he breaks his custom of never lending or borrowing on interest and asks Shylock, a rich Jewish money-lender, for the required sum.
Shylock, brooding over insults and injuries and hating the Christian merchant for despising his usurious habits, at once foresees an opportunity for revenge by one desperate act, and blandly agrees to lend the money without interest, provided that Antonio sign a bond, as a joke, stipulating that the forfeit be one pound of flesh cut from any part of the body that he, Shylock, may designate. Bassanio protests against taking the loan on such terms, but Antonio dismisses the matter lightly in his confidence that his ships will be back within the next two months, and the gay-hearted lover with his friend, the sportive Gratiano, sets out for Belmont to woo the heiress.
Meanwhile, in her palatial home, Portia is carrying out the terms of her fatheršs will by having each suitor make his choice of three caskets, gold, silver, and lead, the lucky aspirant being the one who will choose the casket containing her picture. With stately ceremony, the Prince of Morocco is led to the caskets and chooses the golden one, only to be disappointed by the picture of a skull. The haughty Prince of Aragon opens the silver one and finds the protrait of an idiot. Then, to Portiašs great joy, comes news of Bassaniošs arrival, and she orders a song sung during his trial that hints the proper choice (our piece of poetry). He selects the leaden casket and finding Portiašs picture at once claims his bride, who gives him a ring which he vows always to keep.
His friend Gratiano has made love successfully to Portiašs confidential companion, the pensive but practical Nerissa, and now another pair appears on the scene, Lorenzo, an artist-friend of Bassaniošs, with his bride Jessica, Shylockšs pretty daughter, who, bored with the seclusion of her fatheršs house, has eloped with her Christian lover, taking with her in her flight bags of ducats and jewels. They had met Salerio, a messenger, who asked for their company to Belmont where he was he is ruined, that Shylockšs forfeit of the pound of flesh from his breast must be paid, and that he greatly desires to see his friend before he dies. Bassanio is appalled by the tragic news which he explains to Portia, and Salerio adds to his distress by describing the utterly futile efforts that have been made by twenty merchants, the Duke, and prominent Venetian noblemen, to dissuade the banker from his purpose, even the payment of ten times the amount of the overdue loan having been refused. Hurrying Bassanio through a marriage ceremony, likewise Gratiano and Nerissa, and dispatching the two men to Venice with enough gold to pay Antoniošs debt many times over, the level-headed Portia appeals for help to her cousin, a distinguished lawyer, and leaving her household in charge of Lorenzo and Jessica she proceeds to the court in Venice, introduced and disguised as the learned young Doctor Balthasar of Rome, with Nerissa dressed as a lawyeršs clerk.
As judge in the case, Portia upholds the law in favor of Shylock who fawns upon her admiringly, but when she makes an eloquent appeal to him to be merciful, the banker, doubly hardened by the loss of his daughter, his money and jewels, defends himself well and firmly demands the full penalty of the law. This the court awards, but in his moment of triumph as he faces his enemy with whetted knife, Shylock is suddenly warned by Portia, on the pain of death, not to shed a drop of blood or take even a fraction more or less of flesh than the law allows. Adhering strictly to the letter of the law, the young judge then informs the astounded Shylock that, having refused payment of the debt in open court, nothing is due him but his legal forfeiture, and because of his evident plot against the life of a Venetian citizen half of his possessions go to Antonio, the other half to the state, and his life itself lies at the mercy of the Duke alone.
The Duke pardons the broken old man before he can ask, and Antonio requests, while refusing his share, that Shylock make a will leaving his estate at death to his daughter Jessica and her husband. Portia waves aside the fee offered her, but both Nerissa and she ask for the rings, their own bridal gifts, which Bassanio and Gratiano are wearing. At home again in Belmont, they tease and banter merrily about these trinkets until it is revealed to the amazed men that Portia was the acute doctor of laws and Nerissa her clerk, and Portia hands Antonio a letter telling him of the safe arrival of three of his most valued ships.