one night with Venus, a lifetime with Mercury

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From the use of mercury compounds in the treatment of venereal diseases before the discovery of antibiotics.

Proverb[edit]

one night with Venus, a lifetime with Mercury

  1. A single sexual encounter can lead to a lifetime of disease and treatment.
    • 1976, Jenifer M. Baker, Marine ecology and oil pollution, page 13:
      An eminent physiologist, in the bad old days when Salvarsan and certain other Hg compounds were the only known remedy for venereal diseases, is said to have warned his students that 'One night with Venus may mean a lifetime with Mercury'.
    • 1995, Claire Cooperstein, Johanna: A Novel of the Van Gogh Family, page 112:
      Vincent had opted for the mercury treatment, while Theo, afraid of the time involved ("One night with Venus, a lifetime with mercury')...
    • 1995, J. H. L. Playfair, Infection and immunity, page 146:
      Early treatments with metals (arsenic, bismuth, mercury) led to the cynical summary of syphilitic infection as 'one night with Venus, a lifetime with Mercury'.
    • 2005, Russell Davies, Hope and Heartbreak, page 311:
      Many Welsh people had cause to regret the fact that, for one night of bliss with Venus, they spent a lifetime of regret with Mercury.
    • 2012, Harold Anderson, Searching for Che, page 114:
      But he knew better than to get his hopes up. As the old saying went: one night in Venus and a lifetime of Mercury.