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Cleopaʹtra and her Pearl

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It is said that Cleopatra made a banquet for Antony, the costliness of which excited his astonishment; and, when Antony expressed his surprise, Cleopatra took a pearl ear-drop, which she dissolved in a strong acid, and drank to the health of the Roman triumvir, saying, “My draught to Antony shall far exceed it.” There are two difficulties in this anecdote—the first is, that vinegar would not dissolve a pearl; and the next is, that any stronger acid would be wholly unfit to drink. Probably the solution is this: the pearl was sold to some merchant, whose name was synonymous with a strong acid, and the money given to Antony as a present by the fond queen. The pearl melted, and Cleopatra drank to the health of Antony as she handed him the money. (See “Gresham” in Reader’s Handbook.)

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Entry taken from Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, edited by the Rev. E. Cobham Brewer, LL.D. and revised in 1895.

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Clearing House
Cleave
Clelia
Clelie
Clement (St.)
Clementina (The Lady)
Clench and Clinch
Cleombrotos
Cleon
Cleopatra
Cleopatra and her Pearl
Clergy
Clergymen
Clerical Titles
Clerical Vestments
Clerimond
Clerk
Clerk-ale and Church-ale
Clerkenwell (London)
Clerkly
Client