[Northkeep] Where did "Piss Poor" (and other sayings) come from?

Marc Carlson marccarlson20 at hotmail.com
Thu Aug 2 09:08:44 PDT 2012

> From: talana1 at hotmail.com
> ...I've never heard of any Roman tax being paid in urine. It would be interesting to find such a statute. 
Vespasian, although some attribute it to Nero. Vectigal urinae.  The collectors of the urine from the public pissoirs were selling the liquid to various industries (as Talana mentioned - which sounds far more like Vespasian than Nero - and the phrase "money doesn't stink" does come from Vespasian, and does refer to this tax.   It was used in fulling wool, it was also used to whiten wool when washed.  And yes, you can use it in de-hairing hides, although both lime, and controlled putrefaction were also more oftenly used.
In any case, the urine wasn't used until it was "fermented", which is not actually fermentation as it is meant in brewing.  The proteins and fats in the liquid undergo putrefaction over time in standard temperatures, and ultimately precipitate out into a gray murky sludge, leaving a slightly darker, alkaline liquid, and smells a lot like ammonia (I think technically it becomes an ammonium carbonate mixture).
> Cash-strapped Caesars, I imagine, would be more likely to charge for the removal of it rather than accept it as currency. 
> Talana 
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