Facts about the ancient Romans: They taxed urination, abhorred left-handedness, and drank gladiator blood

Fareeha Arshad

Photo by Chris Karidis on Unsplash

Ancient Romans have dominated a vast part of history, thanks to their influential presence in the world. Yet, despite their superiority in world history, some practices and beliefs originating from this part of the world make no sense now. Let’s look at three of such Roman practices that would have been vehemently opposed if introduced in the present times.

1. Romans introduced the urine tax

In the first century A.D., a strange tax was introduced in Roman society, the ‘urine tax’. This tax was imposed to monitor the urine distribution from public toilets. People who bought urine were expected to pay the tax. Urine was considered an important commodity back in the day and was used to develop medicines and other chemical processes like cleaning, wool production, and tanning.

2. Left-handed people were considered evil in the Roman society

Left-handed people were considered ‘evil’ in society or Satan’s spawn across many cultures and religions for a long time. Likewise, even in ancient Roman civilisation, doing anything with the left hand was considered inappropriate or uncultured. Ancient Roman society was the first to initiate shaking right hands. They wore the wedding ring on the middle finger of their left hand. They believed this would keep the ‘evil’ away from the left hand.

3. Romans drank gladiator blood

Though the Romans were forerunners in science and technology, including medicine, they did follow some stupid practices that raised the question: how did this happen? One of such mind-blowingly crazy practices was drinking gladiator blood. They believed that drinking gladiator blood would help treat epilepsy. Several ancient doctors promoted this belief for centuries. Immediately after the death of a gladiator, the demand for his ‘warm blood’ would skyrocket, and the vendors sold the blood at insane prices.

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I am a scientist by profession and a historian by passion. I mostly write about history and science.

Texas State

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