- Cleopatra and Marc Antony made a bet over whether the Egyptian queen could spend a small fortune on a single meal.
- Cleopatra won the wager after drinking a cocktail made with a dissolved pearl.
- Once assumed to be a legend, Cleopatra's concoction has been demonstrated to be possible.
Cleopatra, the last queen of Egypt, might have indeed drunk a pearl cocktail in a gulp, an experimental study has concluded.
Legend has it that, in order to show her wealth and power, Cleopatra VII (69 B.C. - 30 B.C.) made a bet with her lover -- the Roman leader Marc Antony -- that she could spend 10 million sesterces on one meal.
"She ordered the second course to be served. In accordance with previous instructions, the servants placed in front of her only a single vessel containing vinegar. ... She took one earring off, and dropped the pearl in the vinegar, and when it was wasted away, swallowed it," Roman naturalist and philosopher Pliny the Elder (23 - 79 A.D.) wrote in his Natural History.
Indeed, the pearl was not just any pearl. Pliny called it "the largest in the whole of history," a "remarkable and truly unique work of nature" worth 10 million sesterces.