The pearls of Cleopatra

The pearls of Cleopatra

Pearls, beside being extraordinary natural beauties, have always been able to cover their origins and history with a veil of mystery and legend, which has charmed mens for centuries.

One of the most fascinating legends is surely the one which sees Cleopatra, the last queen of Egypt and the most famous one of history, as its main character: the legend speaks of a gamble between the queen and her lover, Marc Antony, to prove her power and wealth with a single meal which had to cost 10 milions sesterzi.

According to Naturalis Historia of Plinio the Old, Cleopatra served the second course of the feast, presenting to the guests a big tray which held a container full of vinegar, in which dissolved, with much surprise of Marc Antony, a big pearl, then drinking it in front of her guests.

The pearls was, according to the famous historian, “the biggest of the whole history, a remarkable and unique work of nature” worth 10 milions sesterzi; even if this episode is considered by historians pure fiction, this story seduces now as it seduced in ancient times.

However, after many experiments leaded on pearls and their composition in conjunction with the vinegar acids, this very event seems to be very plausible, wiping off that thin line which divides history and legend, highlighting the cunning and cleverness of one of the most famous women in whole history.

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