To learn more about The Portia Project contact Barbara Aldave

Portia's Speech

The Portia Project derives its name from Portia, a woman lawyer created by William Shakespeare as the heroine in The Merchant of Venice. When she tries to persuade an avaricious money-lender, Shylock, not to enforce his right to extract a pound of flesh from Antonio, his debtor, Portia speaks of the moral superiority of mercy to justice:

The quality of mercy is not strain'd,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: It is twice bless'd;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
'Tis mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown;
His scepter shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this sceptred sway,
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself,
And earthly power doth then show likest God's
When mercy seasons justice.