70 Cups of Poison

“The Seventy Cups of Poison are the various sorts of drugs, drinks, devilments and debaucheries available to man. The phrase appears in a description of a seventeenth-century parade in Istanbul: ‘comics, mimic, and mischievous boys of the town, who have exhausted seventy cups of the poison of life and misrule, crowd together day and night…they are divided into twelve companies, the first gypsy, the last Jewish, which included two hundred youths all tumblers, jugglers, fire-eaters, ball players, and cup bearers.’”

Excerpted from: Rogerson, Barnaby. Rogerson’s Book of Numbers: The Culture of Numbers–from 1,001 Nights to the Seven Wonders of the World. New York: Picador, 2013.

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