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

Michael Coone felemid.macphail at gmail.com
Thu Aug 2 23:45:31 PDT 2012

the piss tax was started in 1st century by Nero but kept by many other
Caesars .... you did not have to pay to pee ......but the people that
wanted it for it source of Ammonia... would have to pay a tax to collect it
.... the common people normally used pots .... clay or other earthen pots
to collect it  the rich has sewer system ... and like in modern times
....you if there was something taxed .... there was those who did not want
to pay the tax and would buy it on the black market ......this would be the
urine from the poor ... at lower rate then Caesar charged in taxes ... this
was considered a crime at the time .... but there where still stories of
men going to jail for collecting larges pots of urine and selling it with
out paying taxes ... but there is no real proof any of this happened ...to
many records lost ....  but makes for a good story .... and sometimes that
is all we have left of History as it drifts into folk lore or myth ....

as far as brewing urine... it was normally distilled for leather
tanning.... filtered to yield a purer form of Ammonia ... for the striping
of any flesh from the newly skinned hides ... then later they would add
lime and ash to remove unwanted hair from pelts .... the fermenting was
done for use in other crafts .... like cleaning wool ... making felt ...
some used distilled urine as base for mouth wash ... a bit risky because
Ammonia can kill you ... but the Romans also used lead powder as flavor
additive .... for a period of time  ..

it may sound gross but the other way to get ammonia was to distill it from
plants ... this took a lot of plants that you could not eat ... a lot of
fuel to run the stills.. it was easier to grow food ... and let the poor
piss you pot or 2 a day ....

Felemid MacPhail
MKA Mike Coone

On Thu, Aug 2, 2012 at 11:08 AM, Marc Carlson <marccarlson20 at hotmail.com>wrote:

> > 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).
> M/D
> > 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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