E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
For Cleopatra melting her pearl in honour of Antony, see CLEOPATRA.
A similar act of vanity and folly is told by Horace (2 Satire, iii. verse 239). Clodius, son of Æsop the tragedian, drew a pearl from his ear of great value, melted it in a strong acid, and drank to the health of Cecilia Metella. This story is referred to by Valerius Maximus, Macrobius, and Pliny. Horace says,
Qui sanior, ac si
Illud idem in rapidum flumen jaceretve cloacam?
Sir Thomas Gresham, it is said, when Queen Elizabeth dined with him at the
City banquet, melted a pearl worth £15,000, and drank to her health.