Posted by Eric » 5 Comments »
In The Merchant of Venice today I read the following, spoken by Morocco (Act II, Scene I, 32–8):
If Hercules and Lichas 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 rage,
And so may I, blind Fortune leading me,
Miss that which one unworthier may attain,
And die with grieving.
In the ‘Arden Shakespeare’ edition of the play, edited by John Russell Brown, the note for ‘Lichas’ in line 32 reads:
‘the attendant who brought Hercules the poisoned shirt of Nessus (see Ovid, Met., IX); no story of a game at dice is known [my emphasis].’
Is this correct? Has anyone ever come across an ancient reference to a game of dice?