Ancient Roman toilets: joint leisure or banal hygiene?

Ancient Roman toilets: joint leisure or banal hygiene?

When the conversation turns to this topic, stupid townsfolk wrinkle their noses in disgust, but scientists cannot hide their delight. For them, ancient Roman toilets are a real storehouse (sorry for the pun) of information about how they arranged their life, what they ate, and even what arts the locals were fond of. After all, the latrines were for them not just a place of departure for natural needs, not at all! They performed the same role as kitchens in Soviet communal apartments or, say, modern smoking rooms. There they exchanged news, had secular conversations, weaved intrigues and scolded the authorities.

A bit of history

The Romans were not involved in the invention of toilets as such: they were bypassed by the inhabitants of Mesopotamia, who even 4000 years BC. e. already used something that vaguely resembled modern individual latrines. The ancient Greeks came up with the idea of ​​making public toilets, and the Romans, with their characteristic scale and craving for beauty (remember the Roman baths), brought this invention to a new level: they began to decorate with mosaics, frescoes and sculptures. They say that musicians could even play in the toilets (wow, a job, right?), So those who came in out of need were in no hurry to leave later. The service was wildly popular: only in the 4th century A.D. e. in Rome there were 144 such latrines.

How it was done

Roman public toilets were a room with benches along the walls. Holes were cut into the seats and the front of the bench at a distance of about 40 cm from each other. One thing is clear for what, and through the second they put a stick with a sponge on the end – they wiped themselves (in the center of the room there were grooves along which water ran, sponges were rinsed there). Where did running water come from? The latrines were usually placed next to the baths, so that the water from them washed off sewage into the general sewer.

There were no partitions between the seats; visitors could communicate with each other, which they did with pleasure. By the way, in one of the episodes of the mini-series “Spartacus: Gods of the Arena” Quintus Lentulius Batiatus is just talking to people in the public restroom. Ugly antiquity: what happened at the rich revels of that time.

For whom

Scientists agree that such toilets were used by representatives of the Roman “middle class”. The too poor couldn't find the money to pay for entry, and the too rich didn't have to share a bathroom with strangers—they had their own. Therefore, appropriate conversations were conducted here: one could hear a new verse, the latest political news, receive an invitation to an event, make a business meeting.

Where did the mere mortals go? For them, special urns stood on the streets of ancient Roman cities, chamber pots were on duty in the houses, and no one canceled the “going out into the field” option either. 11 interesting facts about how people lived in ancient times.

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