Saturday, December 4, 2010

Interesting Facts #25: Vespasian

To raise public revenue, Emperor Vespasian--who built the Colosseum--was the first to introduce pay toilets in the city of Rome. When his son and successor Titus protested that the toilets were raising a stink with the poor, Vespasian held a coin up to his nose and said, "Pecunia non olet"  - "money doesn't smell" - a phrase still in use today.   He also made a profit on the side by imposing a tax on the urine that was gathered from public latrines. This custom was practised by textile manufacturers, who used the urine (for its ammoniac content) to process fibres, and by tanners.  Today, Romans still refer to public toilets as vespasiano. The French also refer to toilets as vespasiennes.

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