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Thursday, February 4, 2010

Dashing Your Hopes, Crushing Your Dreams.

If someone asked you, "What's a vomitorium?" you would probably answer with one of the following options:

a. A what?
b. A who?
c. Oh, that's the place where the ancient Romans would eat and eat and eat until they puked.

However, I recently learned that this is untrue. And I am very sad about it.


The vomitorium myth

The ancient Roman vomitorium, or vomitoria, were supposedly places where diners could go and void their stomachs during a meal, in order to make room for more delicacies. There are even detailed descriptions of the rooms, stating that they had large slabs or pillars to lean over that would better facilitate voiding the stomach. Though it might come as a disappointment to preteen boys studying Latin, the vomitorium of such lore is a myth. A true vomitoria is actually a well-designed passage within an ampitheater that allowed large numbers of Romans to file in and out of large spaces quickly. The root of the word, vomere, translates to "spew out," which makes sense when applied to hurried exits.

If you need anything else clarified or ruined for you, just contact the Mississippi Library Commission Reference Department.

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