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10 Weird Facts About Ancient Roman Real Life

At the peak of its power, Rome ruled more than 45 million people across Europe, North Africa and Asia. Its army was the most powerful in the world, and as it conquered more land, Rome grew from a town into an enormous capital.

Ancient Rome was home to gleaming white marble temples, lavish palaces and spectacular gladiator shows. With over one million people living there, the city was also a dirty and dangerous place, with a maze of side-streets and slums.  As you can imagine, real life in Rome was quite a bit less glamorous.

If you ever wondered how your life would be, being born in Rome during 753 BC, here are some interesting facts would help you to picture it.


1 – Common sponge for bathing and cleaning after pooping

Most of the articles speak highly of Rome’s architecture and advancements in their sanitation techniques. However, if you dig a little deep into the history, you will realize that their plumbing techniques were not at all hygienic.

10 Weird Facts About Ancient Roman Real LifeEach public toilet, which was shared with dozens of other people, would have a single sponge on a stick that you used to wipe yourself. (Image Source)

Often the public restrooms were so much crowded that they were treated as a favorite hang out joints by people. Some archaeological site sources claim that the toilets were never cleaned and hence they proved to be a haven of parasites.

It is believed that the ancient Romans carried a special comb to scrape of the lice before using it. The worst part is that the Romans cleaned themselves with the same piece of sponge after finishing their bowel movements. Different people repeatedly reused the sponge without cleaning.

2 – Urine Used as a Mouth Wash

In ancient Rome, urine, the liquid human excreta, was valued so much that selling urine was considered as a taxable job. Many people would make their ends meet by collecting urine and selling it. Romans used urine for strange reasons. According to them, urine contained ammonia, and it helped in bleaching their clothes. In fact, urine was used to clean their teeth and also as a natural mouthwash.

10 Weird Facts About Ancient Roman Real LifeIn some areas, people used urine as a mouthwash, which they claimed kept their teeth shining white. (Image Source)

In the first century A.D., Emperor Vespasian introduced the urine tax. Urine was considered a commodity and was collected from the public bathhouses and given a special tax just like a liquor tax or a tobacco tax.

3 – Fashionistas Used Skin of Dead Gladiators as Facial Creams

Romans never wasted anything! The fashion conscious women believed that rubbing the winning fighter’s dead skin made them look more attractive and irresistible for the men. The sweat and dead skin of the winning fighter were preserved in bottles and sold as an aphrodisiac.

10 Weird Facts About Ancient Roman Real LifeWomen rubbed dead skin cells of gladiators on their faces (Image Source)

4 – Roman Toilets Exploded Like Volcanoes

The Roman toilets had animals and insects staying in them. The animals and insects would suddenly pop out and bite the person who is using the bathroom at that moment.

10 Weird Facts About Ancient Roman Real LifeToilets were so dangerous that people resorted to magic to try to stay alive.

The toilets erupted like volcanoes and scared the daylights out of the people. The Romans were so terrified that they used magic to keep the “devils” out of their restrooms. They believed that the magic would prevent the demons from coming out of the commodes.

5 – Gladiator’s Blood, a Medicine

While the women used winning gladiator’s dead skin as a beauty tip, the blood was used as a medicine to cure epilepsy. The Romans believed in gulping down the blood of the Gladiator which would cure epilepsy along with other ailments. In fact, there was a section of primitive people in Rome who would tear the gladiator’s liver and munch it raw.

10 Weird Facts About Ancient Roman Real LifeSeveral Roman authors report people gathering the blood of dead gladiators and selling it as a medicine. (Image Source)

Eventually, a ban was imposed on this practice by the Roman Government as people started drinking the blood of beheaded convicts. This method was supported by the physicians as they claimed, “gulping down the blood of fellow humans cured epilepsy.”

6 – Pompeii Was Filled With Obscene Art

Romans had an open view on sex and were obsessed with sex- related art. There were many erotic artworks on display in a Roman city called Pompeii. The statue of Pan, the God of mountain animals sexually exploiting a female goat, is one such famous art piece.

10 Weird Facts About Ancient Roman Real LifeErotic wall painting in Pompeii

The city not only had many prostitutes but the streets were filled with erotic designs carvings on the tiles. The designs consisted depiction of a penis pointing towards the closest brothel.

7 – Mooning Started in Rome

Renowned Jewish priest, Flavius Josephus portrayed the existence of mooning in Rome through his writings. He wrote that according to the tradition, a soldier would pull, “up the back of his garments, turned his face away, and with his bottom to them, crouched shamelessly and released at them a foul-smelling sound where they were offering sacrifice.”

10 Weird Facts About Ancient Roman Real LifeRome holds the unique distinction of recording the first mooning in history. (Image Source)

8 – Phallus Considered as Good Luck

Ancient Rome regarded Phallus as a sign of good luck. The people believed that wearing a pendant in the shape of a male organ will ward off the evil. Reliable sources state that the pendant of a penis helped in preventing harm.

10 Weird Facts About Ancient Roman Real LifeIt was a fairly common Roman fashion choice for boys to walk around wearing copper penises on necklaces.

The Romans were so superstitious that they would draw symbols of penises in all treacherous places to keep the explorers safe. The symbols were considered as a good luck charm!

9 – Romans Puked to Continue Eating

Romans loved food! They were so much fascinated with food that they could scale new level of grossness. Romans eat till their stomachs are full and then they purposely threw up so that they can eat some more.

10 Weird Facts About Ancient Roman Real Life According to Seneca, Romans at banquets would eat until they couldn’t anymore—and then vomit so that they could keep eating. (Image Source)

The “sophisticated one” would vomit in bowls near them while the rest puked just anywhere where they are sitting to continue eating.

10 – Goat Dung, an Energy Drink?

Until Band-Aids made their debut, the Romans used to cover up their wounds with goat dung as they believed that it was antiseptic. A renowned Roman author, Pliny the Elder claims that the goat manure was gathered during spring and was dried. It was the best thing to use in case of an emergency.

10 Weird Facts About Ancient Roman Real LifeAncient Romans boiled goat dung in vinegar or ground it into a power and mixed it into their drinks. They drank it for a little boost when they were exhausted.

Charioteers used to drink goat dung as an energy drink. They would boil the dung in vinegar and gulp it down whenever their energy levels dipped. Some sources state that Emperor Nero was so fond of this drink that he ensured to have it regularly.

Although the skills of ancient Rome are quite commendable, certain habits and practices are far from being acceptable in today’s world.


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