AO 7:03, May/Jun 2004
How the Ancients Did Their Business
According to the satirist Juvenal (c. 55130 C.E.), ancient Rome was a nasty place of piercing noises, rotting food, precariously loaded wagons, sweaty crowds and thick mud (or choking dust, depending on the time of year). And things got even worse after dark, when muggers, hoodlums and drunks reigned in the streets. The citys inhabitants would simply fling broken objects, such as ceramic jars, out on the roads, which served as a common dump. Worst of all, Romans living in the upper stories of buildings would empty their slop buckets (patulas defundere pelves)full of kitchen refuse, urine and excrementon the heads of startled passersby (Satires 3.269-277).