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What is the meaning of "too much was at stake" in this sentence:

He agonized over the question of whether he should visit Greece - an obvious destination, given his long obsession with its temples, its rocky outcrops, and its Heraclitus and Parmenides. But that was why he was nervous: too much was at stake

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  • The question of the visit was extremely important to him. – deadrat Aug 21 '16 at 7:41
  • At stake is an idiomatic expression: Fig. ready to be won or lost; at risk; hanging in the balance. That's a very risky investment. How much money is at stake? I have everything at stake on this wager. idioms.thefreedictionary.com/at+stake – user66974 Aug 21 '16 at 7:56
  • by saying too much was at stake he meant, he would lose a lot ( emotionally ) if he did not visit that country. – Abhilaaj Aug 21 '16 at 8:49
  • "At stake" is an idiom which probably refers to gambling, where the "stake" is the amount of money bet. "Too much was at stake" means there was a lot to lose. – Hot Licks Aug 21 '16 at 13:19
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The person in question apparently:

  1. needs to make a choice on where his next visit should be.
  2. has a choice of visiting Greece for this next visit.
  3. holds Greece as a preferred destination, given his long obsession with its temples, its rocky outcrops, and its Heraclitus and Parmenides.
  4. is anxious whether he will be able to spend enough/quality time in Greece if he visits this time (probably because there may not be enough time available, perhaps due to other important matters to take care of or limited duration) and he may not have a second chance to visit Greece (for whatever reason).
  5. is also, perhaps, anxious because he wonders when/whether he will get a chance to visit Greece if he skips it now.

For all we know, probably he has only one shot at visiting Greece, if at all, and he wants it to matter whenever it happens.

So, one of the following is at stake for him:

  • the opportunity to visit Greece (should he miss it now?)
  • the opportunity to spend quality time in Greece (should he visit it in a hurry?)

From dictionary.cambridge.org:

at stake

If something that is valuable is at stake, it is in a situation where it might be lost: Thousands of lives will be at stake if emergency aid does not arrive in the city soon.

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