Facts About Ancient Rome That Will Make You Question If They Were Really Civilized
Also remembered as the ‘Eternal City’, Rome is one of the oldest and the most populated places in the world. The prehistoric residents of this city believed that irrespective of any changes that will ever take place in the future, Rome will always go on for eternity and hence the name, ‘Eternal City’. If sources are to be believed, the ‘City of the Seven Hills’ was named after one of its founder and the first ruler, Romulus. This stunning city began as small insignificant village that has grown and flourished by leaps and bounds, enough to become one of the most beautiful and talked about places in the world. The rich art and spell-binding inventions of Rome till date attract millions of visitors every year giving a huge boost to their flourishing tourism industry. From their phenomenal display of ancient architecture to the intriguing mythological stories, this magnificent place doesn’t fall short on enticing people at all.
However the old adage, ‘All that glitters is not gold’, doesn’t fail to apply here too. The glamorous lives of the ancient Roman men riding in magnificently beautiful chariots and whiling away time in glory was far from their actual lives. The lifestyle they led was not all that rosy, rather for a lack of a gentler term, ‘not-so-desirable’. If you ever wondered how your life would be, being born in Rome during 753 BC, you have landed on just the right post. Here are 10 disgusting facts about Rome that might make you queasy in the stomach right away.
1. Urine Was Used As A Mouth Wash
In ancient Rome if you handled any sort of financial business that involved ‘urine’, then you are bound to be rolling in money. The extent to which this form of human excreta was valued was phenomenal, so much so that selling urine was a taxable job. A lot of people also made their two ends meet by just collecting urine and selling it.
Now here comes the best part, this liquid excreta was used for the most bizarre reasons by the Romans. They believed that clothes were best washed when they were soaked in a bucket filled with urine. This isn’t all, they also washed their cleaned their teeth with urine, a natural mouthwash for the Romans.
This whole procedure was such a big deal that a famous Roman bard Catullus wrote these lines for someone he wasn’t really fond of, “Egnatius, because he has snow-white teeth, smiles all the time…in the country of Spain what each man pisses, he’s used to brushing his teeth and red gums with, every morning, so the fact that your teeth are so polished just shows you’re the more full of piss.”
2. The Same Piece Of Sponge Was Used To Clean Themselves After Pooping
We have read tons of articles that speak very highly of Rome’s architecture and advancements in their sanitation techniques. However if you dig a little deeper into the history of this place you will realize their plumbing techniques were far from hygienic.
The public restrooms were always really crowded so much so that they were also treated as popular hangout joints by people. Certain reliable archaeological sources claim that these restrooms were never cleaned, since they found it layered with parasites. It is believed that some Romans carried a specially designed comb to scrape of whatever lice they could before they could use it. Now if this is freaking you out hold on, the worst part is yet to come. All the Romans cleaned themselves with the same piece of sponge after completing their bowel movements. Needless to say, the sponge was reused over and over again by the different people without the thought of cleaning it even crossing their minds.
3. Roman Toilets Exploded Like Volcanoes
If the previous two points weren’t enough shake the senses out of you, here comes another gross happening in Rome. Their urinals had animals and insects staying in them and would suddenly pop out and bite the person who was using the bathroom at that moment. The toilets also erupted like volcanoes from time to time scaring the daylights out of the residents. They were so terrified that the Romans actually started turning to magic in their belief to keep the devils away from the restrooms. They believed that these spells would help them stay alive and prevent the demons from exploding the commodes
4. They Would Slay A Gladiator And Use The Blood As Medicine
Many Roman literary sources have claimed that the practice of killing gladiators and selling their blood as medicine was a regular one. As tradition goes the Romans believed that gulping down gladiator blood would cure epilepsy along with a host of other diseases. There was one section of the society, apparently the uncivilized ones who would tear out the gladiators’ liver and much on them raw.
Eventually, the Roman Government banned this popular practice and hence the people resorted to drinking the blood of beheaded convicts, a practice that was supported by the physicians of that time. These educated physicians also claimed that the best way to get rid of epileptic fits was gulping down the blood of other fellow human beings.
5. Skin Of Dead Gladiators Were Used As Facial Creams By The Fashionistas
The Romans never let anything go waste, they made the most of every situation and here is one such example of this behavior of theirs. During a combat, the blood of the gladiator who lost his life was used as a remedy to cure epilepsy; however the dead skin of the gladiator who won was used to by all the fashion conscious women on their faces. It was believed that rubbing the winning gladiator’s dead skin cells on a women’s face made her more attractive and irresistible for the men of this city. The sweat and dead skin of the winning gladiator was bottled up and sold to women as an aphrodisiac.
6. Obscene Art Was The IN Thing For Romans.
Romans were obsessed with obscene art, so much so that a place called Pompeii was filled with erotic artwork displayed by the Romans. The statue of Pan, the God of mountain animals sexually exploiting a female goat is immensely popular. The city not only had prostitutes in abundance but was also packed with streets that had the erotic designing craved on the tiles.
Even now if you ever happen to visit Rome you will find the tiles of the city filled with designs of a penis carved on them pointing towards the closest brothel. The Roman sure were surrounded by a lot erotic and raunchy sights on a daily basis.
7. Phallus Was A Sign Of Good Luck
Phallus was considered as a sign of good luck in Rome back then; they also believed that wearing a pendent in the shape of this male organ would help you ward off evil. Reliable sources claim that anyone who wore a pendant of a penis would “prevent harm from coming”. If this level of superstition isn’t enough for you to thank your stars for not being born in those times, there is more to come.
The Romans back then, also believed that a phallus could help you in any hazardous situation. It is this belief that led them to draw symbols of penises in all treacherous places to keep explorers safe from losing their lives. They considered it a good luck charm.
8. Mooning Was A Tradition Started In Rome
The writings of a renowned Jewish priest, Flavius Josephus for the first time portrayed the existence of mooning in Rome. He wrote that as per tradition a solider would pull, “up the back of his garments, turned his face away, and with his bottom to them, crouched in a shameless way and released at them a foul-smelling sound where they were offering sacrifice.”
They sure had a knack of offending people big time and knew just the way to get at it.
9. They Threw Up Their Food On Purpose To Continue Eating
Roman were foodie people and they took their fascination for food to an all new level of grossness. They started off with eating till their stomach was full and then purposely vomited so that they could eat some more. The slightly sophisticated folks threw up in bowls near them and the rest puked just anywhere they were sitting and continue eating.
It was the plight of the servants that is toe-curling, if reports are to be believed, a Roman statesman once said, “When we recline at a banquet, one [slave] wipes up the spittle; another, situated beneath, collects the leavings [vomit] of the drunks.”
10. Goat Dung Was Used To Make Energy Drinks
Goat dung was ‘the’ thing in Rome and people of that time just couldn’t do without it. Since Band-Aids came into existence only a lot later in time, the Romans used to cover their wounds with goat dung with a belief that it is antiseptic in nature. A famous Roman author Pliny the Elder, also claimed that, the goat excreta gathered during spring and dried was the best thing to use “in an emergency.”
Charioteers used to flush goat dung down their throat as an energy drink. They would boil the dung in vinegar and gulp it down whenever they were out of energy. Some reliable sources claim that the Emperor of that time, Nero was extremely fond of this drink and made it to point to have it.
Although ancient Rome was praised for their skills in most areas and very rightfully, there are certain habits and traditions that are far from acceptable in today’s world. What are your thoughts with regards to these traditions followed by Rome? We would love to hear from you, do write to us in the comment section below.