A deadly cup. Referring to the ancient practice of putting persons to death by poison, as Socrates was put to death by the Athenians.
“In the hand of the Lord there is a cup [a deadly cup], the dregs thereof all the wicked of the earth shall wring them out and drink them.”—Psalm lxxv. 8.
Let this cup pass from me. Let this trouble or affliction be taken away, that I may not be compelled to undergo it. The allusion is to the Jewish practice of assigning to guests a certain portion of wine—as, indeed, was the custom in England at the close of the eighteenth century and the first quarter of the nineteenth. This cup is “full of the wine of God's fury,” let me not be compelled to drink it.
Many a slip 'twixt the cup and the lip. (See Ancaeus.) My [or his] cup runs over. My blessings overflow. Here cup signifies portion or blessing.
“My cup runneth over ... goodness and mercy follow me all the days of my life.”—Psalm xxiii. 5, 6.
We must drink the cup. We must bear the burden awarded to us, the sorrow which falls to our lot. The allusion is to the words of our Lord in the garden of Gethsemanë(Matt. xxvi. 39; also xx. 22). One way of putting criminals to death in ancient times was by poison; Socrates had hemlock to drink. In allusion to this it is said that Jesus Christ tasted death for every man (Heb. ii. 9).
in the university of Cambridge, means a mixture of strong ale with spice and a lemon, served up hot in a silver cup. Sometimes a roasted orange takes the place of a lemon. If wine is added, the cup is called bishop; if brandy is added, the beverage is called cardinal. (See BISHOP.)
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894