stock, Oxfordshire, England. Of course many or most of these rings were not worn but merely used as money.
A legal use of a sapphire ring to bind a bargain is recorded in a deed of gift, from about 1200 a.D., by a certain John Long to William Prohume, clerk, of land and houses in St. Martin's Street, Exeter, at a rent of 6s 8d, which
sum was to be donated to St. John's Hospital in Exeter. The grantor
acknowledges the receipt of 45 marks and of a gold ring set with a
sapphire as the price of this lease on very favorable terms.56
stones set in rings sometimes served to hide a " talisman " of a
peculiar kind, namely, a dose of death-dealing poison, kept as a last
resort to free the wearer of the ring from disgrace or from a worse
death. So we are told that when Marcus Crassus stripped the Capitoline
Temple of its treasures of gold, the faithful guardian broke between
his teeth the stone set in his ring, swallowed the poison hidden
beneath it, and immediately expired.57 The great Hannibal,
also, had recourse to the poison contained in his ring, when he was on
the point of being given up to his bitter enemies, the Romans. Of this
ring the satirist Juvenal wrote as follows : " Cannarum vindea; et tanti sanguinis ultor Anulus" or
" That ring, the avenger of those who fell at Cannae, and of so much
blood that had been shed." Another great man, the peerless orator
Demosthenes, is said to have carried with him a similar ring. In a
Rabbinical commentary on Deuteronomy occurs the following curious
Hast thou then no ring? Suck it out and thou wilt die.
56 Historical Manuscripts Commission Report of MSS. in various collections, vol. iv, Dublin, 1907, p. 59x 67 Plinii, Hist. Nat., lib. xxxiii, cap. xxv. \.