An imaginary king of Africa, of great wealth, who “disdained
all womankind.” One day he saw a beggar-girl from his window, and fell
in love with her. He asked her name; it was Penelophon, called by
Shakespeare Xenelophon (Love's Labour's Lost, iv. 1).
They lived together long and happily, and at death were universally
lamented. (Percy's Reliques, book ii. 6.)
“King Cophetua loved the beggar-maid.”
Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
More on Cophetua from Infoplease:
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