The Phaserl


Why dost thou whet thy knife so earnestly?

by Simon Black, Sovereign Man :

Yesterday evening I attended an outstanding performance of Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice; if you’re unfamiliar with the play, the story is about a young Venetian nobleman named Bassanio who needs 3,000 gold ducats to woo a beautiful heiress. Having squandered his wealth, Bassanio approaches his friend Antonio for a loan.

In the middle of the performance, I got curious about the sum. How much is 3,000 ducats in today’s money? A quick check on my phone gave me the answer.

A ducat’s weight is roughly 3.5 grams, or .11 troy ounces of gold weight… so 3,000 ducats is roughly $530,000 at today’s gold price.

In the context of the play, this amount makes sense; in other words, if one were to write an updated version of the play to today’s standards, substituting half a million dollars for 3,000 ducats would definitely fit the plot.

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