Thursday, October 21, 2010

One 15 Million Dollar Meal? Preposterous!


Can you imagine spending $15,000,000 on a single meal? Today a cheap dinner can cost only a couple bucks at a fast food joint. But Cleopatra, a pharaoh of ancient Egypt, was once involved in a bet against her lover, Marc Antony, in which she had to spend 10 million sesterces on a single meal, which today is equaled by about 15,000,000 U.S. dollars. Cleopatra accomplished this gigantic feat by an ingenious thought; take a small but valuable object, say, a pearl earring, and consume that, in order to fulfill the enormous budget. As ancient sources so claim, Cleopatra plopped the pearl into a glass of vinegar, most likely white vinegar, and then consumed the drink, and in this way, she beat Marc Antony on their bet. Today, that claim to such an outrageous action is supported by the experiments of Prudence Jones, a classicist of the Montclair State University. Jones placed a large pearl in a glass of white vinegar, similar to what was popular around this period of Greco-Roman culture, and discovered that the pearl would dissolve in about 24 to 36 hours. The process could be sped up by boiling the vinegar or crushing the pearl first. Through Jones’ experimentation and obvious evidence, it appears apparent that Cleopatra really did swallow a pearl and spent 10 million sesterces on one meal. Although this event is considered a falsity or legend by some historians, new support, old records, and the baking by several educated people grants support to the accuracy of such a claim. In the words of a Stanford University research scholar, Adrienne Mayor, ""I think this research has convincingly demonstrated the technique that Cleopatra could have used to dissolve a pearl. We already know that this curious, intelligent queen carried out toxicological experiments." True or false? Would you be able to spend 10 million sesterces in a single sitting without so ingenious a plan? Even with the backing and resources of so influential a pharaoh? It takes a special person to achieve that brilliance.
By Samantha H. Period 3

http://news.discovery.com/history/cleopatra-pearl-cocktail.html

6 comments:

Sophie S said...

It's interesting that this was the cost and way to solve a bet back then. However, even though the meal cost an outrageous amount to us today, the customs might have been very different back then, and the circumstances under which the bet took place were also different.

Rachel said...

Wow, I would of never thought of dissolving a pearl to spend 15 million on a meal. Cleopatra was clever to think of that. Small but brilliant ideas were probably what made her such a great queen/pharaoh; she could come up with amazing answers to difficult problems. I wonder why Mark Antony wanted her to spend so much money; maybe she already had the solution and proposed the bet herself.

Nathalie said...

I think that Cleopatra was a very clever woman to come up with a way to eat a 15 million dollar meal that was so simple. How she came up with eating a pearl in vinegar is somthing I would never even dream of doing.

Chris said...

History shows us that Cleopatra was very smart in her scientific ways which makes this point towards the side of truth and quite some critics.

Brenna said...

That is a very high amount for a dinner 15 million dollars but cleopatra must have been smart to do that. Customs were very different how they are now. Compared to a cheap meal we can get now.

Jessica said...

This is a very interesting article. It's hard to believe that someone could spend so much for a single meal back then. Cleopatra was very smart.