The Terrible Life Of The Roman Vomit Collector

The bacchanalia is not the only time Romans indulge in so much food and drink. Affluent members of society often held lavish banquets to celebrate the gods and show their wealth. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York even described the banquet as a “feast for the senses.” Guests would recline and gorge themselves on mountains of food.

It was a time when the host could flaunt his riches. Scientific American wrote that one of the more known banquets was that of Trimalchio, as written in the satire “Satyricon.” Trimalchio served his guests dishes like dormice rolled in honey, roasted wild boar surrounded by suckling pigs, and a rabbit with wings attached to make it look like Pegasus.

All these feasts and banquets, as well as the extravagance they showed, prompted the idea that Romans must’ve had rooms in which to .. .relieve themselves. The poet Seneca said, per Active History, guests often “vomit so that they may eat, and eat so that they may vomit.” These vomitoriums were mentioned in the “Satyricon” and in later works referencing the Romans. But, they simply didn’t exist. In truth, Romans didn’t even need to leave the room to vomit.

And that is where the poor vomit collector comes in. Similar to his modern-day counterpart, the Roman vomit collector was tasked to come in and collect the receptacles full of puke. Guests just hurled to keep the party going.

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