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    #1

    Line from Shakespeare

    I saw the following quotation from The Merchant of Venice in a book and then on several web sites, but I fail to understand it.

    When did friendship take a breed for barren metal of his friend?

    The context, in the book in which I saw it quoted, is the prohibition of usury in medieval Europe.

  1. Mister Micawber's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Line from Shakespeare

    .
    I read it as 'when did lending money to friends produce [breed] more money?' The Merchant is encouraging Shylock to lend him money even though Shylock has previously been ill-treated by him. We can't easily charge interest when lending to friends, but we can certainly make a profit in lending to enemies.

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    #3

    Re: Line from Shakespeare

    Thanks. I think I am getting the general idea, although I can't make sense of the sentence itself...

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    #4

    Re: Line from Shakespeare

    is barren metal money (coin) then?? why barren (empty?) metal?

    and is 'his friend' in the context a friend of friendship's? I'm not making much sense here am I?

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    #5

    Re: Line from Shakespeare

    .
    'Barren metal of his friend' is one's friend's money, which is barren because it does not breed, i.e. produce interest ('offspring').

    PS: This quote has nothing to do with the medieval prohibition against usury, I think-- it is simply an example of an attitude which supported the practice.

    .

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