Origins of Sayings - All That Glitters Is Not Gold

About the history and origins behind the famous saying all that giltters isn't gold from Cervantes.

Stories behind Famous Sayings


Who Said It: Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

When: 1615

The Story behind It: In Part II of Cervantes's satire Don Quixote, Sancho Panza uses this gold aphorism while speaking to the duchess. His speech, in part, reads: "...if you don't think fit to give me an island because I am a fool, I'll be so wise as not to care whether you do or not. 'Tis an old saying, the Devil lurks behind the cross. All is not gold that glisters." While Cervantes's phrasing is quite close to the accepted version, "All that glitters is not gold," it is impossible to determine where the idea originated. As far back as the 12th century, a French philosopher and theologian, Alain de Lille, wrote, "Do not hold everything gold that shines like gold." Both Chaucer (in The House of Fame, c. 1383) and Shakespeare (in The Merchant of Venice, 1596) had versions of the aphorism. John Dryden first used the word glitters, in his poem The Hind and the Panther (1687). The line reads, "All, as they say, that glitters is not gold."

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