money has no smell

L. non olet, it [money] does not smell. Titus, son of the Roman emperor Vespasian, had criticized a tax on public lavatories. Vespasian held a coin from the first payment to his son’s nose and asked him whether the smell was offensive. Titus said no. Vespasian replied ‘And yet it comes from urine’ (Suetonius Vespasian xxiii).

1914 ‘E. BRAMAH’ Max Carrados 45 The Romans, Parkinson, had a saying to the effect that gold carries no smell. That is a pity sometimes. What jewellery did Miss Hutchins wear?

1922 A. BENNETT Mr. Prohack iii. The associations of the wealth scarcely affected him. He understood in the flesh the deep wisdom of that old proverb..that money has no smell.

1940 R. CHANDLER Farewell, my Lovely xxxiv. He punched the cash-register and dropped the bill into the drawer. They say money don’t stink. I sometimes wonder.

2002 Times 20 Feb. 3 Mr Justice Jacob..asked rhetorically: ‘Should procurers, pimps, panders..pay VAT? That is the question on this appeal... In this case, as the Latin poet [sic] said, pecunia non olet—money doesn’t smell. I allow the appeal.’


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