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Urinating at dinner
I've always wondered, is it true that Roman citizens urinated into chamber pots while sitting right next to their table or another person, while attending a feast? Didn't they use toilets in their kitchens or under the stairs as suggested by findings in Pompeii?
Many Roman lavatories were communal, so clearly there was no inhibition about urinating in public. There's a scene in Petronius's Satyricon (cAD60) set at the baths, where the rich freedman Trimalchio is engaged in a ball game: "Trimalchio snapped his fingers, and at the signal the eunuch held out the chamber-pot for him, without his ever stopping play. After easing his bladder, he called for water, and having dipped his hands momentarily in the bowl, dried them on one of the lads' [ie slaves'] hair."

However, shortly afterwards, during the famous scene of Trimalchio's feast, there's another reference which suggests that attending to calls of nature at the table was not the correct approach, even for a vulgar parvenu like Trimalchio: "At the end of this course Trimalchio left the table to relieve himself."

He later returns, and tells the guests that "I never hinder any man at my table from easing himself, and indeed the doctors forbid our balking nature. Even if something more presses, everything's ready outside: water, close-stools, and the other little matters needful."

So the chamber pot was kept outside the dining room itself, it seems. The toilets found in the service quarters in Pompeii etc were for the slaves' use, and for emptying the chamber pots and other household and cooking waste into - unless the urine was collected and sold to fulleries, to be used in bleaching and washing clothes.
Nathan Ross
Us barbarians simply leave the yurt, step outside, and piss in the grass. It seems natural, feels good, and you don't need to aim at anything in particular. :grin:
Alan J. Campbell

member of Legio III Cyrenaica and the Uncouth Barbarians

Author of:
The Demon's Door Bolt (2011)
Forging the Blade (2012)

"It's good to be king. Even when you're dead!"
             Old Yuezhi/Pazyrk proverb

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