Pearl Drink
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Pearl Drink
(Revelation 18.9-10)
Page 252

"When the kings of the earth who committed adultery with her and shared her luxury see the smoke of her burning, they will weep and mourn over her. Terrified at her torment, they will stand far off and cry, 'Woe! Woe to you, great city, you mighty city of Babylon! In one hour your doom has come!'" (Revelation 18.9-10)✞

Ancient Roman Society

CleopatraDissolved pearl drinks were a sign of "luxury" in ancient Roman society. Cleopatra (BC 69-30) is said to have drank a dissolved pearl worth $160,000 in wine and vinegar. Every pearl consisted of a substance called calcium carbonate in minute crystalline form deposited in concentric layers. When pearls were dropped in white vinegar, the acetic acid in the vinegar reacted with the calcium carbonate in the pearl, releasing carbon dioxide and dissolving the pearl. The exact time needed to dissolve the pearl depended on several factors, including the acidity level of the vinegar, the temperature and the pearl surface area exposed to the reaction. Vinegar actually provided the best way to authenticate a pearl. If a small drop of vinegar were placed on the pearl, and if it fizzed, the pearl was real. Fake pearls won't react to vinegar. According to Pliny, (61-113 AD) a first-century historian, Cleopatra once dissolved an extravagant pearl in a goblet of wine vinegar and drank it in order to win a wager with Mark Antony. Dr. William Barclay (1907-1978 AD) in "The New Study Bible" informed us that, "Valerius Maximus (14-37 AD) at one feast set a pearl to drink before every guest, and he himself, Horace (BC 65-8) told us, swallowed dissolved pearls from Metalla's ear ring so that he might be able to say that he had swallowed a million sesterces (or approximately $1.35 million in today's money) at a gulp." This was an age of extraordinary gluttony and luxury. Dishes of peacock's brains and nightingale's tongues were set before the guests at many of the banquets.✞

Extraordinary Gluttony

Emperor VitelliusVitellius (15-69 AD), who was emperor for less than a year, succeeded in spending $14,000,000 mainly on food. Emperor Suetonius (70-130 AD) told of his favorite dish, "He mingled the livers of pike, the brains of pheasants and peacocks, the tongues of flamingos, and the milk of lampreys, brought by his captains from the whole empire from Parthia to the Spanish strait." Such was the astonishing gluttony of the Emperors in the Roman Empire!✞

"Pearl Drink"
by Ron Meacock © 2018

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