Thursday, July 24, 2008
The Odour of Romans Law
Apparently the Roman emperor Claudius made a law promoting public flatulence for good health (Suetonius, Claud. 32). Suetonius wrote: "He gave frequent and grand dinner parties, as a rule in spacious places, where six hundred guests were often entertained at one time. He even gave a banquet close to the outlet of the Fucine Lake and was well-nigh drowned, when the water was let out with a rush and deluged the place. He always invited his own children to dinner along with the sons and daughters of distinguished men, having them sit at the arms of the couches as they ate, after the old time custom. When a guest was suspected of having stolen a golden bowl the day before, he invited him again the next day, but set before him an earthenware cup. He is even said to have thought of an edict allowing the privilege of breaking wind quietly or noisily at table, having learned of a man who ran some risk by restraining himself through modesty." I shall have to remember that next time I'm out for a spicey vindaloo curry!